MLSE Buying CFL Toronto Argos Should Give Team Better Opportunity For Financial Success
MLSE yesterday agreed to purchase the CFL Toronto Argonauts, and the "possibilities are now endless for a team coming off an improbable" Grey Cup win, according to Frank Zicarelli of the TORONTO SUN. MLSE had been in talks to buy the Argos when previous Owner David Braley sold the team to Bell Canada and Kilmer Group in '15, but yesterday's acquisition is "sure to elevate" the team's profile. Toronto FC will "remain the main tenants" at BMO Field, but "something needs to get worked out that allows the Argos more access" to the facility other than on game days (TORONTO SUN, 12/14). In Toronto, Jaren Kerr notes the deal will see Rogers Communications "join its two MLSE partners," Bell Canada and Kilmer Group, as part of the Argos' ownership. Bell and Rogers each own a 37.5% stake in MLSE while MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum, who owns Kilmer Group, holds the remaining 25%. The sale is "expected to close" in January '18 (TORONTO STAR, 12/14). Also in Toronto, Bruce Arthur in a front-page piece writes after having "teetered on the edge of dissolution so many times," the Argos are now in the "safest" neighborhood there is. MLSE will now own the team, but Arthur notes it had "already been co-owned" by MLSE partners Bell and Tanenbaum since '15. All this transaction did was "bring Rogers on board" (TORONTO STAR, 12/14).
WORK TO BE DONE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes the Argos will now be owned by Tanenbaum, Bell and Rogers, the "Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen of Canadian sport." MLSE "used to be a company that could win money, just not games." Now it is doing "just about everything and everything right." But the Argos, "wins aside, need some help." Playing in '17 to an "average of audience of 13,913 -- more seats empty than filled" at BMO Field -- the Argos did "about half of what Toronto FC did in attendance." The team's players are "mostly unknowns" and local fans "seem to care" more about Toronto FC than they do about the Argos. The team's marketing was done "primarily by people with limited experience operating in the business of professional sports." But now the team has the "MLSE engine behind them" (TORONTO SUN, 12/14).