Report: Rogers, Leafs owners in talks

Updated: December 1, 2010, 12:37 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Rogers Communications declined Wednesday to confirm reports that is in talks to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team and Toronto Raptors basketball team.

The Toronto Star, citing anonymous sources, reported that Rogers is negotiating to buy a 66 percent majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. Maple Leaf Sports owns the hockey and basketball franchises.

The reported $1.3 billion sale would also include Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, a minor league hockey team, and the Leafs and Raptors TV stations.

Rogers Communications, Canada's largest wireless carrier and one of the country's biggest cable companies, said it is discussing ways to "enhance" the sports content it offers customers. The company already owns the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Sports is an important part of Rogers and we're always in discussions with companies to enhance the sports content we offer," Rogers said in a statement. "There's no change to our current relationship with MLSE. As to the specifics, we don't comment on rumor or speculation."

Deborah Allan, a spokeswoman for Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, also declined to comment.

Rajani Kamath, a spokeswoman for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment said the company has "no knowledge of any discussions" and said if there were any it would be an ownership matter. Kamath referred calls to the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Rogers Communications would become one of the world's largest sports enterprises if it gains control of Maple Leaf Sports. It would give the company ownership of almost all the major sports teams in Canada's largest city, and a controlling stake would give Rogers the ability to provide sports content across its many platforms.

The Maple Leafs have long been the most followed hockey team in Canada. In all, the Leafs have won 11 Stanley Cups, but none since 1967.

The deal also would include the Air Canada Centre, the home of the Leafs and Raptors and a major concert venue. Rogers already owns the stadium in which the Blue Jays play.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan owns about 66 percent of MLSE. Kilmer Sports, which is controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, holds about 20.5 percent of the company, and TD Capital holds the remaining 13.5 percent.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press