MLSE Buys the Argonauts - Are the Blue Jays Next?

In a surprise announcement, MLSE is the proud new owner of the Toronto Argonauts. It was previously owned by the Kilmer Group (Larry Tanenbaum) and Bell Canada, but now it's owned by the Kilmer Group, Bell Canada, and Rogers. The Argos join the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Marlies as MLSE properties.

My initial thoughts are that this is very good for the Argos. Let's face it, the Argos and CFL were all but ignored by Rogers properties like Sportsnet and The Fan 590, and now they'll get more exposure on those key sports channels. It will also help the Argos to have the weight of MLSE's sports marketing expertise behind them. I envision Argos tickets bundled with Maple Leafs playoff tickets and the like. The Argos need to draw better at BMO Field and this will help.

My next thoughts are of the Blue Jays. David Shoalts one explained the accounting advantages if Rogers owned 37.5% of the Blue Jays as opposed to the current 100%. If MLSE were to purchase the Blue Jays from Rogers, they'd have a monopoly on all major Toronto sports franchises. I don't know if this is a good thing or not.

The sale is expected to close in January 2018.

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m m

Hmm, I'm surprised that there are no comments yet on this post. I don't think a monopoly is a good thing. If the Blue Jays were to be sold, there would be only one buyer, and that would be a hard bargain. We are a large enough city/market that should be able to muster some competition. Also, media giving preference to teams owned by their same owners... definitely not good.

December 14, 2017 @ 12:13 PM


this is a decision that only benefits the buyers and sellers - certainly not going to make anything
more affordable from a consumer standpoint... these companies constantly lie about needing to increase costs of tickets and services, but in truth they're gouging us for all they can.

so did Bell cut jobs so they could afford this deal? Funny that they had to let so many people go, but they can buy up a whole sports team.

@m m - spot ON.

December 14, 2017 @ 12:39 PM


If I'm not mistaken, aren't the Blue Jays only 1 of 2 MLB teams corporately owned? I think the Mariners are the other team and Nintendo owns them. I'm always concerned when any company has a monopoly and I'm extremely concerned if MLSE owns all major sport teams in Toronto. Its good for the shareholders, bad for everyday folk that like to watch the events.

December 14, 2017 @ 4:29 PM


I'm not so sure if a Blue Jays sale to MLSE would pass MLB's smell test. I've heard that the league doesn't like if their teams are owned by a publicly traded company, and they wont allow any more sales to companies with that kind of ownership structure. The Blue Jays and Mariners are the essentially grandfathered into their rule.

MLSE in itself isnt publicly traded, but Bell and Rogers are and they own 50% of it. Essentially if MLB allowed it to pass, it would set a kind of precedent that they dont want.

But in any case, i'm convinced the reason Rogers wants to sell the Blue Jays is because they saw the bill of how much it would take to renovate the Rogers Centre and they said to themselves: "there's no way we'll ever pay for these costs, so we should flip it while we can get the most value".

December 14, 2017 @ 8:53 PM


^^^ All good comments above.

Rogers paid all of $25,000,000 (25 million) in 2005 for SkyDome. That has to be the bargain of our lifetimes, given that it was $675,000,000 (675 million) of 1986-1989 taxpayer money. Even with maintenance and what upgrades have been done since the name changed, with legal bookkeeping, not just depreciation, I am sure that the dome is on the books for less than Rogers paid for it.

All over the world, sports team owners, both private individuals and corporations, are trying to hold cities-regions to ransom to get a taxpayer-paid, mostly or wholly, new stadium. As much as the current Ontario and Toronto governments LOVE to promise mega-projects to (over)spend on just about everything they can write (often unfunded) cheques for - never again, people.

December 15, 2017 @ 11:19 AM


Almost any new ownership structure would be an improvement. MLSE has a track record of hiring knowledgeable management and giving them autonomy to run the franchise. Rogers hired experienced managers in Shapiro and Atkins, but heavily restricts their ability to build a winning product.

In the case of Josh Donaldson, Rogers won't increase the payroll, so that he can be signed to a long term deal and also insists that the team must try to contend in 2018, which means trading him for prospects is not an option. Unless there is a philosophical change, the Jays will likely lose him as a free agent at the end of the season and get next to nothing in return.

The Jays are currently being run as programming for Rogers Sports Net.

December 15, 2017 @ 2:41 PM

Dr. Seymour Light

Remember, the Blue Jays own the Skydome or Rogers Centre facility, but not the land it sits on. A huge difference in asset value.

December 15, 2017 @ 3:00 PM


Rogers won't trade Donaldson for one reason. The fans love him, and he is of the few on the team that put butts in the seats.

What they pay him will trade off for what they make in ticket money; he isn't going anywhere. The same for Pillar, Martin, Goins and Travis. They are staples on the team (except for Goins now, I still disagree with not tendering him).

If you're going to turn over a team, you need a few anchors to keep the fans coming. Winning alone won't do it.

December 18, 2017 @ 3:08 PM

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