Peddie to retire from MLSE

Richard Peddie, President & CEO, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment smiles during the official...

Richard Peddie, President & CEO, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment smiles during the official launch at Maple Leaf Square in Toronto Oct 6th, 2010. (Dave Abel/QMI AGENCY)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:09 PM ET

Richard Peddie, whose tenure as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. saw the company enjoy success everywhere but on the ice and the basketball court, will retire on Dec. 31, 2011.

"I’m very proud to have led a company that is arguably one of the finest sports and entertainment companies in the world,” said Peddie in a release. “This is the right decision for me and I felt it was time. The last 13 years at MLSE have been terrific and a lot of fun.”

An MLSE press release on Tuesday morning confirmed earlier reports that a search group has been struck, with the help of Korn/Ferry International. The search committee will consider both internal and external candidates.

"MLSE is what it is today due in large measure to the great team that Richard Peddie has built,” said chairman Larry Tanenbaum. "His leadership has demonstrated how a company like ours can be a leader in the community. When Richard retires, he will leave a wonderful legacy.”

But Peddie’s role in selecting key people to run the various sports properties has been criticized. His perceived meddling has been blamed for a lack of success, and even when he followed popular public sentiment and hired proven executives like Bryan Colangelo and Brian Burke, it didn't result in playoff success.

Peddie took his position when the ownership groups of the Maple Leafs and Raptors merged in 1998 and agreed to share the Air Canada Centre. From there, a sprawling sports/real estate empire was built that now includes the hockey and basketball teams, Toronto FC soccer, the AHL Marlies, Maple Leaf

Square condominiums, a world-class sports bar and management roles in facilities such as BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum and the MasterCard Centre.

Addressing reports he was being pushed out, Peddie told QMI Agency earlier this month he was looking at a retirement on his terms.

"I am 64. I will retire at some time...there is still lots to do before I leave,” he said.

Many estimates have the company tripling its value to more than $1.5 billion under his watch.

"Richard took the helm of a two-team and one-venue organization in 1998 with a clear vision of transforming it into a world-class enterprise,” said Neil Petroff, chief investment officer of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has a majority stake in MLSE.


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