MLSE Sold To Rogers, Bell

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owner of Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and Raptors basketball teams, has been sold to Canada’s largest communication companies in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.

Rogers Communications and Bell Canada Enterprises will split a 75 percent stake through the agreement, giving the companies control of the MLSE holdings in what is being called one of the largest sports deals in North American history. The rival telecom companies will have to split the Leafs’ TV broadcasts, of which MLSE claims about 50.

MLSE also owns Toronto’s major league soccer franchise, the amateur hockey Marlies and three TV networks, and operates Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field.

“I am excited to welcome our new partners Bell and Rogers,” said MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum. “I am proud this is a made-in-Canada deal that will bring resources and expertise to help us win on and off the ice, court and pitch. This is a terrific path forward for our teams and our fans. It will ensure MLSE continues to make a positive impact in Toronto and across this great country of ours.”

Rogers has been rumored to be eyeing MLSE since last December, when whispers of negotiations surfaced.

The sale is expected to close by mid-2012, pending regulatory and league approval.