Rogers says its relationship with MLSE is unchanged

Rogers Communications says there is “no change to our current relationship” with the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and several other major-league sports franchises.

TORONTO — Rogers Communications says there is “no change to our current relationship” with the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and several other major-league sports franchises.

The comment comes amid reports that the Toronto-based company — already the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays — is in high-level talks to acquire control of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in what’s rumoured to be a $1.3-billion deal.

The reputed seller — the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board — majority partner in MLSE, which owns not only the National Hockey League’s Leafs and the Marlies of the American Hockey League but also the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Toronto FC soccer team.

Besides owning Canada’s largest wireless phone business and one of the country’s biggest cable companies, Rogers also has a media business that owns the Sportsnet specialty cable channels and the Rogers Centre stadium.

Rogers has been pursing an integrated marketing strategy for years, using its various businesses to cross-promote each other — encouraging sports fans, for instance, to follow their teams over Rogers internet, TV or radio affiliates. i

“We have a successful, long standing sponsorship and broadcasting arrangement with MLSE,” Rogers said in a statement Wednesday.

“Sports is an important part of Rogers and we’re always in discussions with companies to enhance the sports content we offer our customers.”

“There’s no change to our current relationship with MLSE. As to the specifics, we don’t comment on rumour or speculation.”

A spokeswoman for Teachers said the pension fund manager also wouldn’t comment.

“It’s our policy to neither confirm nor deny such stories,” said OTPP’s Deborah Allan.

Citing anonymous sources, the Toronto Star reported that the sale would include the sports teams, Leafs TV and Raptors TV, but not MLSE’s real estate holdings.

The pension fund manager owns about 66 per cent of MLSE. Kilmer Sports, which is controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, holds about 20.5 per cent of the company and TD Capital holds the remaining 13.5 per cent.