Rogers in Talks to Purchase Toronto Pro Sports Franchise: Report

Looking to take majority control of Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors for $1.3 billion


Canadian cable and mobile phone giant Rogers Communications is in talks to purchase majority control of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors for $1.3 billion, the Toronto Star newspaper reported Wednesday.

Toronto-based Rogers possibly buying a 66% stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) from the Ontario Teacher's Pension Fund follows Richard Peddie on Tuesday signaling he will step down as president and CEO of the pro sports team operator and broadcaster on Dec. 31, 2011.

If completed, the MLSE stake purchase by Rogers would be the largest Canadian pro sports transaction ever, and directly challenge major TV sports broadcasters like TSN, Canada's cable sports channel, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Rogers already owns and runs the Toronto Blue Jays pro baseball club, and the Rogers Sportsnet regional cable sports channel.

Securing a majority stake in MLSE would hand Rogers the rights to broadcast the Maple Leafs, the Raptors, the Toronto FC soccer club and the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs' farm team.

In addition, MLSE has a stable of digital TV properties, including LeafsTV, NBA TV Canada and Golf  TV Canada.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund last year boosted its stake in MLSE to two-thirds control by acquiring a 7.7% stake from Canadian broadcaster CTVglobemedia as it looked to pay down debt.

CTVglobemedia runs TSN, which already airs Maple Leafs and Raptors games on its schedule.

Executives at Rogers were not available for comment on a possible deal for the MLSE stake at press time.