Bell, Rogers deal best because it's Canadian
JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - If you can't beat 'em, partner with 'em.
The blockbuster deal that will see Bell and Rogers own three quarters of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is an example of two waring factions agreeing to divvy up the land evenly.
Up the middle comes current MLSE chair Larry Tanenbaum, who will not only continue to run the massive sports conglomerate but has increased his stake to 25%.
Smart by the telecommunications giants because Tanenbaum had first right of refusal to obtain the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan's almost 80% share and could have taken this company in a different direction — including forming a new super network like they have in New York with the Yankees.
But this is the best direction because it remains Canadian.
"Larry was the key to this deal," said a source. "If he doesn't stay on to run the company, it doesn't happen."
It's kind of an unholy alliance he stands in the middle of.
But with neither company able to come up with the riches to own the majority stake in MLSE outright, this was a better solution than one of them being forced out of the sports TV business.
Interesting times ahead — especially to see what happens with Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.
"There are 1.3 billion reasons why it won't be around beyond 2014," joked an insider. "And your cellphone and cable bills have just gone up."
Time will tell but what Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC fans are looking for are championships.
Both Rogers and Bell insisted making that happen is their number one priority.
And they will do it together.