Leiweke Lands In Toronto

Former AEG President/CEO Tim Leiweke has been appointed president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, effective June 30. The appointment comes some six weeks after he abruptly resigned his AEG post, and about a year after the departure of Richard Peddie from the MLSE executive position.

“Tim Leiweke is one of the top sports executives in the world, renowned for his ability to build championship teams, premier entertainment events, and innovative brand and marketing opportunities,” MLSE Chairman Larry Tananbaum said. “Tim is a leader who understands what fans want and what it takes to build winners.

“With his deep leadership experience and unparalleled  success at the highest level of professional sports, Tim’s the right CEO at the right time to lead the transformation of MLSE.”

The Toronto-based company owns the Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square, and has a financial interest in and manages Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field. It also owns a clutch of professional sports properties including the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA’s Toronto Raptors, Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

MLSE also has a partnership with AEG concert promotion and facility management rival Live Nation.

“I’m honored and excited to be chosen to lead MLSE, a world-class sports and entertainment organization with the major league teams, premier facilities and employee team that rank with the very best across North America and internationally,” Leiweke said.

“MLSE is woven into the character of Toronto. The loyal and passionate fans of MLSE’s teams want sports championships for this great city. … And they want MLSE to be an active part of their community.”

That last sentence describes a role Leiweke knows well – he was the face of AEG in Los Angeles and worked closely with city, county and neighborhood leaders in developing Staples Center and L.A. Live into a thriving center from what had been a decrepit corner of the city’s downtown core. He was in the midst of an effort to construct a football stadium and lure an NFL team to Los Angeles when he resigned from AEG.

Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times the decision to accept a long-distance move from L.A is a deliberate one. At least where sports are concerned, he said he didn’t intend to compete with AEG on its home turf – though how the new partnership with Live Nation will play out in the concert world remains to be seen.

“I don’t want to do anything that harms this company [AEG]. I feel strongly about the people that are here. I hired them all,” he told the Los Angeles Times about the new position. “I feel very strongly about the success of the hockey team and the soccer team and I would do nothing to ultimately put them in a difficult situation. So my decision with Toronto was made in part because I don’t mind competing for the Stanley Cup, but I don’t want to be competing in L.A.”

Leiweke will relocate himself and his family to Toronto, where he will lead a management team that includes COO Tom Anselmi and the company’s other front office and sports teams execs.