Argos to be the ONLY non-Rogers Toronto Team?


Holy smokes, get a load of this! This one's a game-changer, and what does it mean for my beloved Argos???

Rogers in talks to buy Leafs in blockbuster deal

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Robert Cribb and Tony VanAlphen
Staff Reporters

[i]In what would be the biggest transaction in Canadian sport history, Rogers is in talks to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal worth more than $1 billion, sources said Tuesday.

The sale would include the Raptors, Toronto FC soccer club and the Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ minor league hockey team.

Buying a majority stake in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan would transform Rogers, which already owns the Toronto Blue Jays, into one of the most powerful sports enterprises in North America.

“I know it’s real,? said one top sports industry executive, who requested anonymity. “I’ve heard it from Rogers at a high executive level and from MLSE at a (the highest) level.?

Sources close to the talks say the asking price for the 66 per cent stake owned by the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, which has about $95 billion in assets, is in the neighbourhood of $1.3 billion.

“This would be unprecedented in a market the size of Toronto,? said Richard Powers, sports marketing professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “They would have a stranglehold on basically the entire professional sports market in southern Ontario and control almost every single stream of sports-producing revenue in the city.?

A deal with telecommunications giant Rogers would include all of MLSE’s sports properties, including Leafs and Raptors TV stations, but not the company’s real estate holdings, sources told The Star. MLSE recently completed construction on its newly minted Maple Leaf Square condo development next to the Air Canada Centre.

Spokespersons with both Rogers and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan declined comment.

“It’s our policy to neither confirm or deny,? said Deborah Allan, director of communications and media relations for the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Richard Peddie, MLSE’s chief executive officer, referred all questions to Teachers’ representatives.

“It’s a shareholder matter,? he said. “I have not been involved in any discussions and I have no knowledge of it.?

It is not known whether Rogers is the only bidder or if the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan intends to talk to other parties.

At some point, Larry Tanenbaum will be involved. Kilmer Sports, which the construction magnate owns, holds 20.5 per cent of MLSE, and has a right of first refusal if another shareholder sells. TD Capital holds the remaining 13.5 per cent.

“Either Larry has to pass or Larry goes in bed with Rogers. When Ted (Rogers) was alive, there was always that discussion with Larry and Ted,? said one source.

For Rogers, the programming enticements of a deal are irresistible.

Rogers, which already has epublishing, cable, radio and wireless interests and owns the Blue Jays baseball club, could merge Leafs and Raptors TV, add the Toronto FC games and effectively start the most powerful regional sports network in the country. It would be among the biggest in North America.

“It’s a home run,? said one source. “Content is king. The only way you can draw new subscribers is through compelling, unique and exclusive programming.?

Aubrey Kent, the Torontonian director of the Sports Industry Research Centre and Temple University in Philadelphia, said a Rogers deal would mean “they’d own a huge city.

“Everything but the Argos. It would be quite a monopoly all centralized in a top five market in North America.?

While more than billion dollars isn’t cheap, it could prove well worth it, he said.

“With the landscape as it is, they really need those properties to fulfill their programming need. It’s online content, apps, mobile broadband and TV. Taking over the most valuable property in the NHL and one of the top sports properties in North America is an investment in your core business.?

It could also be good news for sports fans, he said.

“There are a lot of people who have a problem with the Teachers’ Pension Plan being so bottom-line oriented. Rogers might be the same but winners draw more eyeballs than losers do. So there’d be more impetus for Rogers to invest in a winning team.?

Rogers might also be attempting a pre-emptive move, say analysts.

As it stands, MLSE is a threat to start its own powerful regional TV network.

“(Rogers) might be saying, ‘(MLSE) could easily create a regional sports network and kick our ass,? the source said.

That model already exists in the U.S. where the New York-based MSG (Madison Square Garden) Network broadcasts New York Ranger and New York Knick games as well as the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.

Adding MLSE teams to the Blue Jays’ nest would also be a game changer for Rogers’ Sportsnet.

A perennial second place finisher to TSN, Sportsnet could become the exclusive spot on the dial to see the country’s most watched hockey team.

“They’re going to try to take the heart out of TSN,? said the source. “They may just say, ‘No more Leaf games on TSN. We’re going to take the whole thing.?

Andrew Zimbalist, a leading sports economist, agrees TSN would be a target.

“It’s a very rich valuation for the Maple Leafs, as iconic as they are as a sports brand, which makes one look for monopoly synergies for Rogers and the obvious one is that they could bury TSN . . . It would be an enormous concentration of power.?

In recent years Rogers has aggressively overpaid for the rights to broadcast games, pay-per-view and digital content for Canadian NHL teams, say sources.

“It’s huge for Sportsnet, huge for wireless and huge for cable,? said the source. “If you go across those platforms and take a pocket of money out of each, there’s a lot to be made there.?

Powers, of the Rotman School of Management, raised a caution repeated by other industry watchers: “You have to wonder if you want that much concentration in one organization. This is a whole other level.?

Teachers’ increased its stake in MLSE last year buying out the 7.7 per cent interest of CTVglobemedia Inc. for undisclosed terms.

There have been rumblings in recent years that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, one of the original MLSE investors, wanted to unload its stake despite its continuing strong profitability.

But there’s no upward profit movement for the Leafs any longer, the source said, at least as long as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan owns the club.

“They’ve capped out on the number of seats and ticket prices.?[/i]

Hopefully the Argos will never be bought into some big corporate cold atmosphere, I pray not unless it’s the only way for the team to stay in existence. Wreaks of corporatish coldness, soulless. :thdn:

I have no doubt with such local and national clout that Rogers not only will continue to marginalise the Argos but will have a dominant vested interest to marginalise the entire CFL after this deal.

We have a similar issue though not nearly as dominant with the likes of the scumbags at Comcast down there. Any channel they've touched in the cable spectrum has gone to total crap too.

Hardly anyone likes their BIG cable company here except perhaps some of us who are customers of Brighthouse (a unit of Time Warner), and heavy PR by these firms is more proof than ever they are playing catch-up for sake of merely PR to foster more such media clout for likely the worse for the average consumer.

When the bills for high-speed internet plus whatever sports I want but perhaps main events for MMA on HDTV are less than $90 a month including taxes, then we'll talk. And there's no question in my mind that in volume the cable companies or other video providers would make money hand-over-fist at even those lower total bills.

Otherwise cable TV is just one grand rip-off down here stacked full of crap programming, homer promos, and more informercials than ever in a scam to get as many people as possible paying well over about $140 per month to get to see most of the good stuff.

But hey at least there is free quality porn otherwise online if you are into that too sometimes nowadays. :lol:

I think that if rogers bought the argos they would be vaulted to that level of professionalism. They would have access to so much marketing, contacts and information that would benefit the team

Could you provide just one example in all of North America where it is true that concentration of ownership in any given media market is beneficial not only to the team but to the community at large?

Greater Toronto would represent in my view the largest media market in North America in which such a high concentration of ownership would exist after such a deal.

Washington and Atlanta are just two markets with which I have experience and local knowledge enough to know it is definitely not the case that concentrated ownership is best for the community. Ownership is in a few hands in Washington, and Atlanta sports and media with nothing but fair weather fans is run by Turner/Time Warner and the owner of Home Depot ultimately.

Heck only after I left in 2005 did Washington even have any media interests who were not ultimately paid shills and hacks for the Washington Redskins. There is no dissenting or critical sports media in sleepy, lazy Atlanta.

Those hacks and shills in Washington DC for example include Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, who otherwise pose at odds with each other on that dumb show PTI but are DC homers at the core.

Yes Paolo, Rogers will try and marginalize the Argos and CFL in their quest for supremacy over TSN (BellGlobeMedia still parent company?). The ratings the CFL gets on TSN are competition to the Rogers sports empire no question.

And rouge, the only way I'd want the Argos to be owned by Rogers is if there was no other way for it to happen and Rogers was intent on promoting the team. But why since TSN carries the rights to all CFL games and Rogers is in the NFL business in Toronto? Marginalize might be a nice word come to think of it.

And Toronto FC fans, a couple on the Red Patch Forum, are already lauding this as the death of the Argos to move to Moncton. These soccer guys are only so happy, some, to get rid of the Argos and CFL in Toronto that they see getting TV ratings better than FC and with the 100th GC in Toronto in 2012 that will be huge, they don't much like CFL "pointy ball" as they say. They are afraid and scared poopless of the CFL and Argos, at least some, because of the ratings. Here's one example of what someone there wrote:

[i]And the Argos? As Mott The Pringle might have sung:

It's a mighty long way down the dusty trail
and the sun burns hot on the cold steel rail
and I look like a bum
and I crawl like a snail
(da-da dadadadadadadada)
All the way to Moncton [/i]

Not saying all TFC fans of course, but some.

Oh yes from one crooked company to another.
Wonderful examples in the Toronto market place.
Thankfully the Argos remain with Mr. Braley, the only honest and true Canadian.

That just means the argos (and the CFL) become even more important to TSN.
MLSE or Rogers, what's the diffrence? Both incompetent companies and wont change the product at all.
Very few teams in sports owned by companies or large consortiums do well. The exception may be the CFL's community owned teams.

Earl, don't worry about what TFC have to say. Their team sucks, nobody watches MLS and soccer will never be more than a niche sport in North America. People obviously see the success the CFL is enjoying.

True enough geroy. I guess I'm just curious though about how some of them love to bash the CFL knowing it's in jealousy big time especially with the ratings. Some of them there are so predictable, you think they'd know better than to expose themselves like this as being afraid.

Terrible idea. Nobody ever wins when one business controls that much of the market. Monopolies = stagnant product and frustrated but powerless fans.

I hope this sale doesn't become reality.

Well they haven't won a cup in over 40 years and haven't made the playoffs in over 5 years. How could it get any worse? The current owners (the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan) aren't exactly a culture of accountability. Teachers in general live by this "Everyone gets a trophy for coming out" mindset. I think Rogers will bring some accontability to this franchise.

True Birdman. I can see some of TFC fans concerns though that in such a large sports monopoly that the soccer team might get a bit more buried since Rogers will be pumping the Leafs big time. The soccer team doesn't make the money of the Leafs and doesn't have the big brand recognition of the Jays or Raptors.

I think in many ways it's good for the Argos to stand alone as long as it's possible to do this.

1.3 Billion dollars for Rogers to purchase the OTPPs share of MLSE.

Hopefully, if Rogers does purchase this, they will have their plate full and will cease with their poorly thought out plan of moving the Bills to Toronto.

$1 billion for a team that hasn't won a championship in 40+ years. Yeesh! :roll:

I doubt the Bills will be moving anywhere soon.

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read this from the pet shop boys

[i]The NHL is done expanding for the foreseeable future and the structure of the league, rules, and status of most teams is pretty much set in stone. As a sporting entity - the NHL has pretty much hit it's zenith financially and in terms of marketability. Of course, the Leafs still make money hand over fist, but is their growth and the growth of hockey greater compared to TFC and soccer?

Whereas the NHL is losing steam, MLS is gaining momentum. We've got Vancouver coming into the league next season followed by Montreal in 2012 along with other US clubs further down the line. The rest of the league (MLS) seems to be finally stabilizing and the dark days of constant franchise collapse or relocation is gone. On top of that, we've got a pretty good chance to see the US host the WC within ten years time.[/i]

Finally, there's the NFL scenario. Rogers' wet dream is to bring an NFL team to Toronto and you know that eventually they will succeed. I've been told that a huge portion of fans at a Bills' game on any given weekend are from north of the border, and the NFL know that too

these comments from the brain dead soccer fans show how much they know. it's the baby sitters club with these morons.
go take your 4 and 5 year old to soccer leagues and games or what ever your round ball is, and tell everybody thats soccer is so big and popular. what a f****** joke!

here's another thing about this.

You should have watched TSN make a mockery of the situation on the late night broadcast.

Didn't notice that post cdh, good read. US didn't get the 2018 or 2022 WC and the MLS, while yes it is on much better footing, still won't be able to be in the same ballpark as college football or the NFL in the US for many years to come as I see it, the tradition isn't there. And if the MLS thinks that 2 more Canadian teams will vault it into the stratosphere and is relying on this, then they are in huge doodoo. Calling themselves 'major', they are going to eventually have to pay NFL type salaries and the big soccer leagues in the world or else they won't be able to live up to their monikor. If I were them, I would have never used that title. At least here, we use 'Canadian' which sets up our league in a different manner than blends with the brand, no disconnect like the MLS.

They should have had the MLS Cup in the Rogers Centre, having it at BMO was a big mistake. They need to take their championship game to 35,000 seaters at least by this time of their existence.

As a side note Earl, note that college football, outside the South and for sake of alumni for a handful of the top programs (i.e. USC, Michigan, Stanford, Notre Dame and a handful of others) will lose popularity also not only due to the BCS BS down here but also due to the recent hypocrisy of the NCAA in the Cam Newton scandal.

Basically the NCAA has affirmed two things:

  1. Players have been paid all along, but now it is okay so long as it is through their family members and the player, wink wink, is totally oblivious to the matter! :roll:

  2. Anything to keep up the facade of competition, akin to the NBA, as the BCS hand-picks competitors in top bowl games for sake of the NCAA. And most sacred of all is the top conference the SEC.

Outside the South, even few college football fans, like me at one time, give a hoot about NCAA football postseason games any more as has been the case for a few years now with fewer games on actual New Year's Day.

The dominance of ESPN coverage with all its double-talking media (expletive)mouths for college football here does not help the matter either.

Give me a choice on a Saturday between a good college football match-up and a good CFL match-up, and unless it involves my alma mater Notre Dame, I'm going with the CFL game because at least it is part of a genuine sport and not more like NBA spentatainment and the WWE.

Thanks Paolo, I wasn't aware, have to admit, of that sentiment towards college football in the US now. I remember reading a book called Meat on the Hoof, it was a long time ago I read it but man, very interesting read.