Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment announce deal to buy Toronto Argonauts

TORONTO — Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which already owns the Maple Leafs, Marlies, Raptors and Toronto FC, is adding the CFL’s Argonauts to its portfolio.

MLSE announced Wednesday it has an agreement to buy the Grey Cup champions.

There was already some cross-ownership. The Argos are currently owned by two-thirds of the MLSE triumvirate — chairman Larry Tanenbaum’s holding company, the Kilmer Group, and Bell Canada.

In bringing the Argos fully into the MLSE fold, Rogers Communications will officially join its two MLSE partners as part of the CFL team’s ownership.

“Under its current ownership, a transformed Argonauts football club enhanced its presence and fan base in Canada’s largest sports market and ultimately marched to the CFL championship,” MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl said in a statement. “We look forward to building on the Argos’ strong momentum as we welcome the team to the leading provider of sports and entertainment experiences in Canada.”

The sale is expected to close in January 2018, according to MLSE.

Approval from the CFL board of governors would not seem to be a problem.

“On the heels of a stunning Grey Cup showdown with the Calgary Stampeders that highlighted the sheer excitement of Canadian football, we’re thrilled that the Argonauts will be joining the MLSE roster,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, said in a statement. “We welcome MLSE to the CFL and look forward to working with them to further enhance the experience for Canadian football fans.”

The Argos play at MLSE-operated BMO Field, home to the newly crowned MLS champion Toronto FC. While the lakefront stadium has more character than the domed Rogers Centre, fans have taken a while to warm up to it.

The Argos drew just 11,219 spectators to a June 30 home loss to the B.C. Lions. But attendance grew as Toronto mounted its playoff push with the Eastern final against Saskatchewan drawing 24,929.

Bell and Tanenbaum bought the Argos from David Braley in May 2015 after nearly a year of talks. Braley, who also owns the B.C. Lions, took control of the Argos in February 2010 from Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

Rogers did not get involved at the time of the 2015 sale, with speculation that it was not interested in the franchise because the CFL was tied to Bell, through its broadcast affiliate TSN.

Rogers owns the Blue Jays, the city’s other major sports franchise, although there have been reports recently that the team may be available for the right price.

Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are North America’s oldest continuously operated professional football club.

The club has had its ups and downs both on and off the field.

Cynamon and Sokolowski bought the team after the CFL took over the franchise in 2003 from New York businessman Sherwood Schwarz, who had become the franchise’s ninth owner in 2000.

The team has had some star power in the front office.

In 1991, Harry Ornest sold the Argonauts to a group spearheaded by L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and comedian/actor John Candy.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

11 rafters rescued from Red Deer River

Red Deer RCMP rescued a party of 11 river rafters Saturday afternoon… Continue reading

Tuesday marks 20th anniversary of Pine Lake tornado

‘Devastation was apparent’ following F3 tornado killed 12 people on July 14, 2000

Red Deer woman loses student visa, ‘has no choice but to leave’ Canada

Victoria Forschle and her family came to Canada in 2008

Red Deer up to four active COVID-19 cases

Province announced 77 new confirmed cases across Alberta Friday

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

REGINA — Elections Saskatchewan estimates it will need 400,000 face masks and… Continue reading

Quebec police say they found 2 bodies in St-Apollinaire during search for 2 girls

SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father… Continue reading

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA chief Don Fehr reflect on RTP, CBA deals

Gary Bettman and Don Fehr finally have a chance to catch their… Continue reading

NHL’s road to Edmonton and Toronto featured plenty of obstacles

Since early March, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every decision facing… Continue reading

Florida sets record week for coronavirus deaths

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s coronavirus death rate rose again Saturday, setting… Continue reading

Trump’s defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in Washington

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to… Continue reading

With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

Borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year

Most Read