Rogers wants to buy MLSE

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MLSE, which owns the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and the Air Canada Centre, was quiet on Wednesday following a report by the Toronto Star that Rogers Communications has bid $1.3 billion to buy the assets I just mentioned. This report comes one day after MLSE’s CEO, Richard Peddie announced that he will retire at the end of 2011.

The silence on the issue by MLSE on Wednesday was deafening because normally this type of news would be squashed right away if it were completely false. That fact, plus the curious timing of the report just one day after the current CEO says he plans to retire raises the prospect that this may very well be true. A story this big cannot be kept quiet for very long so we likely will know more in the coming days.

Rogers already owns the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre. If they were to successfully purchase MLSE then that would mean that they would own every major sports team in Toronto (not including the Toronto Argonauts because the CFL is not really a major league). Current MLSE minority owner, Larry Tanenbaum owns 20.5% of the sports empire and is known to be loving his role as the top guy in the company. It is also known that he has first right of refusal on buying the majority stake in MLSE that Rogers has bid for. What is not known right now is if he has enough money or the necessary investment partner(s) to buy that stake.

As a Toronto Raptors fan, I hope that somehow Tanenbaum ends up with the majority ownership of MLSE. I don’t like the idea of Rogers owning MLSE because they have proven countless times that they do not care what their customers think. Sports teams are all about the fans and Tanenbaum understands this as he himself is a fan. MLSE will be far better off with Tanenbaum as the majority owner of MLSE versus Rogers. Let’s all hope that he can come up with the cash to buy them.