Thursday, 31 March 2011

End of the Teachers Reign?

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan announced their intention to sell their majority share of MLSE. The 66% share is up for sale for about $1.3 billion to the right buyer. If this sale goes through it would be the largest deal in Canadian professional sports history.

The announcement has sparked buzz around the industry about potential buyers. The leading contenders are said to be Rogers Communications, Bell Canada, Shaw Communications, and Telus Communications.
Rogers was reported to be the front-runner back in December.

If Rogers were to claim the 66% share, they would control a massive chunk of the Toronto professional sports. Already majority owners of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers would grasp a umbrella consisting of all the major sports franchises in the city; Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and Toronto FC. This ownership would enable Rogers to have a massive advantage in Canadian sports broadcasting. Rogers Sportsnet would skyrocket and challenge Canada's sports broadcasting leader, TSN.

Not only would Rogers Communications benefit from this massive investment, but I believe the fans that follow the franchises of the MLSE will also benefit from this potential deal. Rogers Communications is a massive corporation that puts an enormous amount of focus on sports. They have proven their willingness to give sports consumers the best product on the field through their running of the Toronto Blue Jays. They increased the salary cap to give the team more of a chance against the high payroll teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox.

The fans of MLSE franchises will also be beneficiary's of this purchase because they will have an owner that is committed to having winning sports teams. Leafs nation has been crying out for years on the removal of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. Toronto Maple Leafs fans realized the lack of commitment the Teachers had for the success on the ice.

Now a change in ownership won't magically change the Toronto Maple Leafs into perennial Stanley Cup contenders. However this past NHL season saw a team do exactly that. The Buffalo Sabres were purchased by Terry Pegula and ever since the arrival of the new owner the team has been on fire.

Who is to say that won't happen to the Maple Leafs for a true change at the source of the franchise could ignite new enthusiasm in the organization. Whatever the case, no matter who the owner of this historic franchise is; the fans want on ice results.

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