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MLSE adds CFL champion to sporting empire

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) has bolstered its sports portfolio with the acquisition of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football League (CFL) club.

The team was recently crowned CFL champion and is currently jointly-owned by Canadian telecommunications company Bell and the Kilmer Group, which is the holding company of MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum.

MLSE’s acquisition of the Argonauts is expected to close next month, pending approval by the CFL Board of Governors.

MLSE already owns NHL ice hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA basketball franchise the Toronto Raptors and Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC. Its sporting empire also includes ownership of American Hockey League team the Toronto Marlies, NBA G League team Raptors 905 and United Soccer League outfit TFC II.

The Argonauts play at BMO Field at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, which is operated by MLSE and also serves as the home of Toronto FC. The Argonauts said they will benefit from financial scale and promotional, ticketing and other operational synergies following their acquisition by MLSE.

“Under its current ownership, a transformed Argonauts football club enhanced its presence and fan base in Canada’s largest sports market and ultimately marched to the CFL Championship,” Michael Friisdahl, president and chief executive of MLSE, said. “We look forward to building on the Argos’ strong momentum as we welcome the team to the leading provider of sports and entertainment experiences in Canada.”

Michael Copeland, president and chief executive of the Argonauts, added: “Everyone at the Argos organisation is proud to have delivered the Grey Cup to our fans in what was truly a game for the history books. It’s been an exciting time of renewal and accomplishment for the Double Blue and I speak on behalf of all of us at the organisation when I say how excited we are to now be joining forces with MLSE, Canada’s top sports company.”

Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are said to be North America’s oldest continuously operated professional American football club and the oldest pro sports team of any kind on the continent that still operates with its original name.