Toronto Maple Leafs For Sale: Who Are the Potential Owners?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IMarch 13, 2011

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Curtis Joseph #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs wears a 'Leaf Fans #1' jersey during warmup prior to facing the Buffalo Sabres in a preseason NHL game at the Air Canada Centre September 22, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario. The jerseys were later given to fans in attendance. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Numerous media outlets are reporting that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is considering selling their 66 percent majority share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

According to Quebec newspaper La Presse, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan ownership stake is believed to be worth $1.3 billion.

Potential suitors for the majority ownership will likely include Rogers, who already owns the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre (formerly The Skydome).

Given the extreme price tag, there will be very few suitors. That said, given how much money the Maple Leafs consistently produce, one has to figure on a number of American interests getting involved in the bidding process as well.

One wonders if Research In Motion tycoon Jim Balsillie would take a stab at purchasing the Maple Leafs, but with his poor history with the NHL and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, it would seem unlikely that Balsillie would be given the chance.

Balsillie took a stab at owning both the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes only to see both potential sales nixed by Gary Bettman and the NHL, based on Balsillie’s desire to move those franchises to Southwestern Ontario.

Either way, many Maple Leaf fans are all for new ownership. Leaf fans have long felt that the Teachers’ Pension Plan have held potential spending back over the years, which, given the organizations propensity for spending up to the cap limit, has never been properly substantiated.

For Rogers, the thought of being able to control and profit from the Maple Leafs broadcasts has to be intriguing. If they were able to garner exclusive rights, the return could be epic.

While no timeline has been put on the potential sale, one would think a deal of this magnitude will be months in the making, with a final sale likely approved after the 2010-11 season has ended.

It will be interesting to see just how many potential buyers step up. One thing's for sure, with an estimated $1.3 billion price tag, potential owners will have to have very deep pockets.

Until next time,