Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
|Industry||Sports, property management|
|Founded||1931 (as Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.)
1998 (present name)
|Headquarters||Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario|
|Key people||Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman
Tim Leiweke, President and CEO
|Products||Professional sports teams, sports venues, sports channels, commercial real estate|
|Owner(s)||Rogers Communications – 37.5%
BCE – 37.5%
BCE Inc. – 28%
BCE Master Trust Fund – 9.5%
Kilmer Sports – 25%
|Subsidiaries||Toronto Maple Leafs
|References: Enterprise value — $2 billion CAD (2011)|
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) is a professional sports company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Among its properties are the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League, the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. MLSE is also involved in property management, including ownership of the Air Canada Centre, the home arena of the Maple Leafs and Raptors.
- 1 History
- 2 Ownership
- 3 Staff
- 4 Assets
- 5 Proposed projects
- 6 See also
- 7 References
The corporation's roots can be traced back to 1927, when Conn Smythe organized a group of investors to purchase Toronto's premier hockey franchise, the Toronto St. Patricks of the National Hockey League, which had earned Stanley Cup championships in 1918 (as the Toronto Arenas) and 1922, from a group headed by Charles Querrie. The club was in trouble financially, with Querrie having lost a lawsuit to former Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone, and Querrie gave serious consideration to a $200,000 bid from a Philadelphia group, but Smythe persuaded him to reject the Philadelphia bid, arguing that civic pride was more important than money. Smythe was the largest stakeholder, having personally invested $10,000 in the deal, and his group contributed $75,000 up front and a further $75,000 due 30 days later, with minority partner Jack Bickell retaining his $40,000 share in the team. The deal was finalized on Valentine’s Day, and the new owners quickly renamed the team the Toronto Maple Leafs. Later that year, Smythe bought the junior hockey Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association to serve as a developmental team for Maple Leafs.
In 1929, Smythe decided, in the midst of the Great Depression, that the Maple Leafs needed a new arena. Their then home, the Arena Gardens, which they shared with the Marlboros, had been built in 1912 and seated just 8,000, which the Maple Leafs were regularly filling. After considering various locations, the site at the corner of Carlton and Church was purchased from The T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for $350,000, a price said to be $150,000 below market value. A new 12,473 seat (14,550 including standing room) arena was designed by the architectural firm of Ross and Macdonald. To finance the construction, Smythe launched Maple Leaf Gardens Limited (MLGL), a management company that would own both the Maple Leafs and the new arena, which was named Maple Leaf Gardens (MLG). A public offering of shares in MLGL was made at C$10 each ($150.00 in 2014 dollars), with a free common share for each five preferred shares purchased. Ownership of the hockey team was transferred to MLGL in return for shares. Construction started on June 1, 1931, and in what is to this day considered to be an unparalleled accomplishment, MLG was opened five months and two weeks later, on November 12, 1931, at a cost of C$1.5 million ($22.5 million in 2014 dollars). The Marlboros also moved to the new arena.
The first professional game of the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), was contested at MLG between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers on November 1, 1946. However, the Huskies folded after the league's inaugural season. Numerous exhibition and regular season NBA and American Basketball Association games were held at MLG over the years, including a total of 16 regular season Buffalo Braves games at MLG from 1971-75 in an attempt to gauge the city's interest in a full-time team. MLGL attempted to purchase the Braves for $8.5 million and relocate them to Toronto in 1974, and again in 1976 and 1978, but the owners eventually chose to move the team to San Diego. Toronto was awarded an expansion NBA franchise for $6.5 million in 1974 for the following season, with MLGL one of three groups bidding for the team, but the club never materialized due to an inability to secure funding for the expansion fee. MLGL attempted to purchase and relocate the Houston Rockets in 1975, and the Atlanta Hawks in 1976. In 1979 a Toronto group which included then MLG owner Harold Ballard again pushed for an expansion franchise, but lost out to the Dallas Mavericks. A Toronto group, which included Bill Ballard, son of Harold, and Basketball Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain submitted an application and $100,000 deposit for a NBA expansion franchise for MLG in 1986, but of the six cities to apply Toronto was not one of the four which were successful. It wasn't until the NBA awarded an expansion franchise to John Bitove, over a group led by Larry Tanenbaum which had partnered with the Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Raptors joined the NBA for the 1995–96 season that the city once again had a team of its own.
The company has owned numerous minor league hockey teams over the years which have acted as developmental farm teams for the Maple Leafs. A group backed by Smythe and Frank Selke of the Montreal Canadiens was awarded an American Hockey league franchise for Rochester, New York in July 1956, after a local group could not come up with the $150,000 in capital required by the league. The Leafs and Canadiens would each own 27.5% of the team, with the balance sold to Rochester interests. The team was named the Rochester Americans. The Amerks were a joint affiliate of both the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs, though the club was operated by the Canadiens. In the summer of 1959 the Maple Leafs bought out the Canadiens ownership share of the club, giving them a 55% controlling interest, due to concerns that with Montreal operating the club they were giving their prospects priority over those of the Leafs. They would purchase most of the remaining 45% in 1963, boosting their ownership share to 98% by November 1964. In July of 1966 the Maple Leafs sold the team to a group which included their then General Manager Punch Imlach for a reported $400,000.
In June 1963 the Spokane Comets Western Hockey League franchise was purchased by a group lead by the Maple Leafs which relocated them to become the Denver Invaders and act as their farm team. Though the league did not acknowledge that the Maple Leafs had an ownership stake in the team, they held a majority position with the Denver partners only owning roughly 36%. Following reported losses of $150,000 in their first season, Smythe announced that the team would be relocated after the city failed to reach a 2,000 season ticket target before the June 19 deadline the league had imposed. The team became the Victoria Maple Leafs for the following season. In June 1967, MLGL sold the team for $500,000 to a group from Phoenix which relocated it to become the Phoenix Roadrunners.
In 1964, MLGL launched the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Professional Hockey League, which they owned and operated as a developmental team for the Maple Leafs. In the spring of 1973 MLGL announced that they would relocate the team to become the Oklahoma City Blazers. Prior to the 1976-77 season the Maple Leafs decided to share the Dallas Black Hawks of the CHL with the Chicago Black Hawks as their affiliate, in an attempt to reduce costs, and pulled out of the Blazers. In 1878 the New Brunswick Hawks of the American Hockey League (AHL) were established and were jointly operated by the Chicago Black Hawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs as their farm team. MLGL and the Black Hawks each owned half of the franchise. However, by 1980 Ballard had decided that the Leafs needed a farm team of their own, with a spokesperson citing the limited number of roster spots as the rational for the move. In 1981, the MLGL owned and operated Cincinnati Tigers of the old Central Hockey League were launched, but the team averaged only 1,500 fans and lost $750,000 in their first season, leading the Leafs to fold the Tigers the following spring. Shortly thereafter, with Chicago having pulled out of New Brunswick in favour of affiliating with the Springfield Indians on their own, the Leafs relocated the New Brunswick Hawks to St. Catharines, Ontario to establish the St. Catharines Saints as their farm team. The team played in St. Catharines until 1986, and after stops in Newmarket, Ontario as the Newmarket Saints (1986-1991) and St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador as the St. John's Maple Leafs (1991-2005), the team moved to Toronto as the Toronto Marlies, named after the company's former junior team, where they have been playing ever since.
The Marlboros served as a farm team for the Maple Leafs for 40 years until direct NHL sponsorship of junior teams ended in 1967 when the NHL made the Entry Draft universal. In October 1988, with the team losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, MLGL reached an agreement to sell the Marlboros for a reported $500,000, severing their ties with the Maple Leafs. However, the Leafs retained the rights to the Marlies name. The OHL team moved to Hamilton for the 1989-90 season, becoming the Dukes of Hamilton.
In the early 1970s, MLGL announced plans to apply for a second Canadian Football League team to be based in Toronto, in addition to the Toronto Argonauts, which would play at Varsity Stadium, but the proposal never went anywhere. In 1974, when his former partner John Bassett put the Argonauts up for sale for $3.3 million, Ballard expressed interest in buying the team, but it was ultimately sold to another group. In February 1978, Michael DeGroote sold the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL to MLGL for $1.3 million. During his tenure as owner of the Tiger-Cats, Ballard claimed to have lost roughly $20 million over 11 seasons, and repeatedly threatened to move the franchise to Toronto's Varsity Stadium. MLGL sold the team in March 1989 to David Braley for $2.
MLGL, which at the time was contemplating building their own new arena for the Maple Leafs to replace the ageing MLG, purchased the Toronto Raptors and the arena the team was building, Air Canada Centre, for $467 million on February 12, 1998. That July the company adopted its present name. Maple Leaf Gardens was subsequently sold to Loblaw Companies, Canada's largest food retailer, in 2004 for $12 million under the condition that it not be used as a sports and entertainment facility, though MLSE eventually consented to allowing a small arena to be restored in the building to house Ryerson University's Rams.
In 2000, MLSE was granted approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for two category 2 digital specialty channel licenses for Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV, which launched on 7 September 2001. The channels were used by MLSE to broadcast live games for their teams in an attempt to increase competition for their rights and drive up the fees paid by other broadcasters.
In August 2004, MLSE announced that they would relocate their AHL farm team from St. John's, Newfoundland to Toronto to play in the Ricoh Coliseum for the 2005-06 season, after the arena was left without a hockey tenant following the termination of their lease with the Toronto Roadrunners, AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, for defaulting on their rent. MLSE agreed to a 20 year lease for the Coliseum, which had undergone a $38 million renovation in 2003, that calls for rent to cover debt financing charges, property taxes and generate a return to the arena investors, which exceeds $4 million annually.
In April 2005, MLSE announced that they would be working with Cadillac Fairview (a wholly owned subsidiary of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan) and Lanterra Developments to build Maple Leaf Square, a major entertainment complex situated next to the Air Canada Centre in Downtown Toronto. The $500 million CAD complex will be a mixed use facility including office space, residential condo towers and 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) of retail and dining space. The complex was completed in 2010 and features many amenities including the Hotel St. Germain, e11ven restaurant, Real Sports Apparel, Real Sports Bar and Grill, Longos grocery store, and condominium residences along with a connection to the neighbouring Air Canada Centre. In conjunction with this was a two year, $48 million renovation of the ACC to connect it with the square, which added a new atrium that includes a High-Definition broadcast studio for Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and GolTV Canada. The outside wall of the atrium features a 30 by 50-foot (15 m) video screen overlooking the plaza, which often broadcasts games taking place inside the arena.
MLSE was awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team for Toronto, which would become known as Toronto FC, in 2005 for $10 million. The organization also agreed to contribute $8 million (out of a total $62 million project) towards construction costs of BMO Field where Toronto FC would play, purchased the naming rights to the stadium for $10 million for 20 years (which they later resold to the Bank of Montreal for $27 million over the first 10 years) and agreed to cover any construction cost overruns. The governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto contributed the rest of the funding, with the City of Toronto also providing the land. In return, MLSE got the management rights for the stadium for 20 years. Prior to the 2010 MLS season, MLSE spent $3.5 million to convert the stadium from Field Turf to natural grass, and a further $2 million to expand the north end by 1,400 seats. As part of the deal to convert the field to natural grass, MLSE spent $1.2 million adding a winter bubble to Lamport Stadium and $800,000 building a new artificial turf field to replace the community use hours lost at BMO.
MLSE has contemplated purchasing the Argonauts of the CFL at least twice, with minority partner Larry Tanenbaum keen to add the team to his list of franchises, but concluded that the cost and effort that would be required to make the team profitable was not worth the minimal financial upside. In 2013 it was reported that the company was again considering purchasing the team to have them play at a renovated BMO Field. A vote by MLSE's board on purchasing the team was called in December 2013, but they were unable to come to an agreement on the issue, leading to the possibility that Tanenbaum might purchase the team individually.
In 2008, MLSE considered bringing a National Football League team to Toronto and building them a new stadium, but abandoned the idea when they concluded that the project would not generate sufficient financial return to justify the significant cost of the project. More recently, new MLSE president Tim Leiweke has said on an NFL team in Toronto: "We can’t own a team (per NFL rules), but we do have more expertise on how to build (stadiums) than anyone ... MLSE can play a role. We’re not the lead here. Our job is to augment whatever group may come together." It has been reported that MLSE is interested in building and managing the proposed NFL stadium, with MLSE minority owner Tanenbaum part of the group which would own the team. The company reportedly has already begun designing the stadium. The potential acquisition of the Argos by MLSE is thought to enhance the likelihood of Toronto receiving an NFL franchise, with former President of MLSE Richard Peddie saying "everything I'm hearing is that that the NFL is telling them that if you want an NFL team, you better make sure the Argos are okay." Leiweke has said that moving into a renovated BMO field "will help turn [the Argos] around" and that "there's no way the NFL comes here without the CFL being unbelievably successful first.”
MLSE also contemplated purchasing Sportsnet and the Toronto Blue Jays from Rogers Communications, but concerns about the viability of SkyDome as a baseball venue and the profitability of the team resulted in the company not pursuing the project.
When the nearby city of Oshawa built their new arena, known as General Motors Centre, MLSE was chosen to manage the building. However, disappointing results in the first year and a half of operations following the arena's opening in November 2006 lead MLSE to request that its contract be terminated in March 2008. The company had been attempting to get into the business of managing facilities beyond those where their teams play, but decided withdraw, with Bob Hunter, MLSE's Vice President of venues and entertainment, saying that managing the arena was "no longer a strategic focus for us".
In September 2009, MLSE opened their new hockey practice facility, the MasterCard Centre. The arena was a joint venture between the Maple Leafs, the City of Toronto and the Lakeshore Lions Club, and was built at a cost of $44 million, after cost overruns drove up the cost from $33.65 million, to replace the nearby Lakeshore Lions Arena. The Lions Club contributed $40 million to the project, with the city providing a $35.5 million loan guarantee. The Toronto District School Board leased the land for the arena to the Lakeshore Lions for a 50 year term. MLSE spent a further $5 million on training and medical facilities to make the building the practice rink of their two hockey teams, the Maple Leafs and Marlies. MLSE pays $600,000 annually to rent the building. The arena was originally operated by the Lakeshore Lions Club, but in June 2011, with the arena unable to deal with its rising debt and on the verge of defaulting, the City of Toronto decided to take control and assume its $43.4 million debt, with the intention to return it to private management within 2–3 years. A city councillor has suggested that MLSE, which operates BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum on behalf of the city, would be "the logical party" to take over the arena, and a spokesperson for the company said "while we don’t have any interest in purchasing the facility, we are open to discussing the possibility of managing the facility on behalf of the City of Toronto". MLSE's executive vice president of venues and entertainment Bob Hunter said they would bid for the right to run the building.
In March 2011, Downsview Park was selected as the site of Toronto FC's new state-of-the-art Academy and Training Facility. Construction began on the KIA Training Grounds in May 2011, and the facility opened in June 2012. It includes three grass fields, one domed turf field and a field house. MLSE spent more than $21 million building the facility and pays rent for the land, with an aim to becoming the epicentre of soccer development in Canada.
MLSE considered investing in an English association football (soccer) club, and on May 29, 2012, after the Leeds United Supporters Trust put out a request for a takeover from majority shareholder Ken Bates, it was reported that MLSE were in talks to buy the team. However, MLSE later denied that it planned to purchase the club.
Timeline of sports team ownership
Although Smythe was the face of the Gardens from 1927 onward, he didn't acquire majority ownership until 1947, following a power struggle between directors who supported him as president and those who wanted him replaced with Frank J. Selke. Toronto stock broker Percy Gardiner lent Smythe the money he needed to take control of the corporation. The loan was paid off in 1960. In 1961, Smythe sold most of his shares to a three-person partnership formed by his son, Stafford Smythe, Harold Ballard and John Bassett for $2.3 million, giving them control of about 60% of the company. In September 1971, Bassett sold his shares to Stafford Smythe and Ballard. Just six weeks later, Stafford Smythe died. Under terms of Smythe's will, each partner was allowed to buy the other's shares upon their death. Smythe's brother and son tried to keep the shares within the Smythe family, but in February 1972 all of Smythe's shares were purchased by Ballard. Smythe's brother Hugh also sold his shares to Ballard, ending the Smythe family's 45-year involvement in the NHL. This left Ballard with majority ownership, which he retained until his death in April 1990.
The executors of Ballard's will were supermarket tycoon Steve Stavro, Don Giffin and Don Crump. In 1991, Stavro paid off a $20 million loan that had been made to Ballard in 1980 by Molson. In return, he was given an option to buy MLGL shares from Ballard's estate. Molson also agreed to sell its stake in MLGL to Stavro. That deal closed in 1994, and shortly after Stavro bought Ballard's shares from the estate for $34 a share or $75 million. The purchase was the subject of a securities commission review and a lawsuit from Ballard's son Bill Ballard, but the deal stood and Stavro and his partners in MLG Ventures became the new owner of MLGL. MLG Ventures subsequently took MLGL private, and the two corporations amalgamated. The majority owner of MLGL, holding 51% of the company, was MLG Holdings, a corporation controlled by Stavro, with minority shareholders Larry Tannenbaum (25%) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (20%). The other 49% of MLSE was owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
In 2003, Stavro sold his stake to CTVglobemedia, and the ownership was restructured based on equity, with MLG Holdings being dissolved. This left Teachers' as controlling majority owners of MLSE, and Tanenbaum taking over as non-executive chairman.
The same year, MLSE was internally valued at over $1 Billion CAD by the Teachers' in its annual report. In 2008, the Toronto Star reported that a valuation commissioned by the company concluded that MLSE was worth $1.5 billion USD.
Each owner of MLSE had first right of refusal on any shares sold. On December 5, 2008, CTVglobemedia sold half of its 15% stake to Tanenbaum for $90 million, making Tanenbaum the second-largest stakeholder. The transaction valued the company at $1.2 Billion.
On August 20, 2009, Teachers' announced that it had agreed to purchase the remaining 7.7% stake in MLSE owned by CTVglobemedia.
On December 9, 2011, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan officially announced the sale of its 79.53% majority stake in MLSE to Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, in a deal valued at $1.32 billion, giving the company an enterprise value of $2 billion. As part of the deal, Larry Tanenbaum increased his stake in the company to 25%. The deal required the approval of Canada's Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (with regards to MLSE's TV channels), as well as the NHL, the AHL, the NBA, and MLS (with regards to each of MLSE's main sports franchises).
The Competition Bureau announced on May 2, 2012 that it would not challenge the transaction at this time, but that it will "actively review" the situation in light of "serious concerns" expressed by various parties, reserving the right to take action at a later date. The NHL Board of Governors approved the sale at a meeting in Las Vegas on June 19, 2012. The final approval, that of the CRTC, was granted on August 16, with the commission noting that it only had jurisdiction over the TV channels owned by MLSE (the transfer of ownership of which, it decided, posed no major concerns), and not the broadcast rights associated with MLSE's teams. The transaction closed on August 22, 2012.
Following the transaction, the ownership of MLSE became divided as follows:
- 8047286 Canada Inc. (Rogers/Bell joint holding company) – 75%
- Kilmer Sports (holding company of Larry Tanenbaum) – 25%
This ownership structure means that, at the shareholder level, Rogers and Bell vote their overall 75% interest in the company together and thus must jointly agree on decisions affecting the company. (If Rogers and Bell owned their interests directly, either Rogers or Bell could be overruled by its competitor in combination with Tanenbaum.) Similarly, Rogers and Bell have agreed that their four (of six) directors on the MLSE board will always vote together, and thus that any disagreements between those two companies will be settled privately without the involvement of Tanenbaum.
Bell has indicated that the involvement of Bell's pension fund is, at least in part, intended to ensure Bell can retain its existing 18% interest in the Montreal Canadiens, as NHL rules prevent any shareholder that owns more than 30% of a team from being involved in the ownership of any other team.
Board of Directors
- Larry Tanenbaum – Kilmer Sports (Non-Executive Chairman of the Board)
- George A. Cope – BCE and Bell Canada
- Dale Lastman – Goodmans LLP
- Edward Rogers III – Rogers Communications
- Mary Ann Turcke – Bell Canada
- Tim Leiweke – CEO and President
- Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
- Valued at $1.15 billion USD in 2013, the Maple Leafs are the most valuable team in the NHL.
- Toronto Raptors (NBA)
- Valued at $520 million USD in 2013, the Raptors are the 18th most valuable team in the NBA.
- Toronto FC (MLS)
- Valued at $121 million USD in 2012, Toronto FC is the fifth most valuable team in Major League Soccer.
- Toronto Marlies (AHL)
- TFC Academy
Note that the valuations done by Forbes are estimates and are not based on numbers provided by MLSE.
Facilities and properties
- Air Canada Centre, a multi-purpose indoor arena in Downtown Toronto, home arena of the Maple Leafs and Raptors. ($265 Million CAD)
- Maple Leaf Square (38%), a real estate development in Downtown Toronto, adjacent to Air Canada Centre, developed in partnership with fellow OTPP subsidiary Cadillac Fairview. The development includes, among other tenants, the following businesses operated by MLSE:
- Real Sports Bar & Grill, a sports-themed restaurant
- Real Sports Apparel, a sports clothing store
- e11even, an upscale restaurant on the corner of Bremner and York streets.
MLSE also operates two facilities owned by the City of Toronto:
- BMO Field, home of Toronto FC (MLS) and the Canadian men's national soccer team (CONCACAF)
- Ricoh Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
Practice facilities invested in:
- MasterCard Centre - practice facility for the Maple Leafs
- KIA Training Grounds - practice facility for Toronto FC, and home to TFC Academy
- Leafs TV, a specialty television channel devoted to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies
- NBA TV Canada, a local version of NBA TV which also devotes part of its schedule to specific coverage of the Toronto Raptors
- GolTV Canada (80.1% holding), a local version of GolTV, broadcasts selected Toronto FC games and other team coverage, along with various international soccer games.
BMO Field renovation
With the early financial success of Toronto FC, an expansion of BMO Field has been discussed. Following Tim Leiweke taking over as president of MLSE in June 2013, he began discussing the company's plans for a $120 million renovation of the stadium, half of which would cover the cost of a partial roof over the spectators, and possibly making the stadium compatible for the Canadian Football League as a home for the Toronto Argonauts. In early January 2014, Leiweke said that next six months would be spent consulting with experts to determine the feasibility of the project. MLSE is seeking government assistance for funding the renovations. The city has asked MLSE that the Argos be included in the renovations plans. On February 25 Grimes said that a deal was "getting close" and could be reached "in the next couple weeks". Preliminary plans were released to the public on March 5, and the $115-120 million renovation was approved by the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place two days later.
The upgrades would add a new upper deck on the east side, raising capacity from 21,566 seats to 30,000 for soccer, with 25,000 seats in CFL football configuration, and would be temporarily expandable with additional endzone seating to 40,000 for big events such as rugby sevens at the 2015 Pan-Am games, a Winter Classic, Grey Cup, MLS Cup or a successfull 2026 FIFA World Cup by Canada. The plans call for retractable endzone stands to ensure that fans aren't farther from the playing surface in soccer configuration due to the larger CFL field, and a roof over all permanent seating areas. Leiweke has promised that playing surface will remain natural grass, and a hybrid playing surface such as Desso GrassMaster, in which artificial fibers are embedded in the turf to allow for the grass roots to intertwine with them to strengthen the pitch, is under consideration.
Under a two-phase construction process, the capacity of the stadium would be increased before the Pan-Am games, with the roof added by 2016. The plans are expected to be examined by the City of Toronto's Executive Committee on March 19, and the full City Council on 1-2 April. If approved, construction could begin shortly after Labour Day 2014. The designs are expected to be finalized by April.
Raptors practice facility
In November 2013, MLSE announced that they had contracted an architect to design a new $20 to $40 million practice facility for the Raptors. The team has trained on a practice court in the ACC since its opening in 1999, and a new facility would allow for this space to be turned into a restaurant. No location for the facility has yet been selected. MLSE is investigating partnering with Canada Basketball on the project. A final decision by the MLSE board of governors on construction of the facility was expected in December 2013.
Real Sports channel
In November 2009, MLSE applied to the CRTC for a Category 2 digital TV license to operate a general interest sports service provisionally named Mainstream Sports, which was granted in June 2010. MLSE planned to use the licence to launch a channel to carry its teams' broadcasts, along the lines of team-owned regional sports networks in the United States such as YES Network and the New England Sports Network, with the tentative name "Real Sports" (in keeping with the branding of MLSE's sports bar and apparel store). It is not clear whether such a channel would have replaced, or be supplemental to, MLSE's existing digital channels.
With the sale of OTPP's interest in the company to Rogers and Bell, owners of Sportsnet and TSN respectively, and associated agreements around the division of MLSE teams' regional broadcast rights between those two entities, it is no longer expected that such a channel will launch. Peddie has credited the threat of the launch of Real Sports as a motivator for Rogers and Bell to purchase the company due to concerns about losing the rights to broadcast MLSE teams to the channel or having to pay huge fees for them.
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