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Leiweke appointed to take over MLSE in Toronto

TimLeiweke1 (Getty)


Considering what Tim Leiweke did for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Toronto FC and their fans could be forgiven for being pretty excited for their future prospects.

The former President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group was named to the same role with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment on Friday, a Toronto-based sports company that manages, among others, Toronto’s Major League Soccer franchise.

“Tim Leiweke is one of the top sports executives in the world, renowned for his ability to build championship teams, premier entertainment events, and innovative brand and marketing opportunities,” MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum said in a press release. “Tim is a leader who understands what fans want and what it takes to build winners. With his deep leadership experience and unparalleled success at the highest levels of professional sports, Tim’s the right CEO at the right time to lead the transformation of MLSE.”

Previously at AEG in Los Angeles, Leiweke helped build the Staples Center, Home Depot Center, and sealed the deals to bring in international stars like David Beckham and Robbie Keane to the Galaxy. He left AEG after 17 years on March 14 by mutual agreement.

“I’m honored and excited to be chosen to lead MLSE, a world-class sports and entertainment organization with the major league teams, premier facilities and employee team that rank with the very best across North America and internationally,” Leiweke said in the press release. “MLSE is woven into the character of Toronto. The loyal and passionate fans of MLSE’s teams want sports championships for this great city. They want excitement on the ice, on the court, on the pitch and on the stage. And they want MLSE to be an active part of their community. I am committed to delivering for them when I begin my new role as CEO of MLSE.”

Leiweke will begin at his new job at MLSE on June 30.


What do you make of this news? How do you see Leiweke impacting Toronto FC?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Actually, I’m not so sure this is a good move. It’s probably good for MLSE–that’s been a poorly run organization. But it probably means Kevin Payne is on his way out–not sure if two strong personalities (both with a strong emphasis on soccer) can co-exist. And Nellie is Payne’s man. I would not be surprised if a year from now, Payne is gone. And then the new TFC President wants his own man as coach. And thus the wheel turns again.

  2. Not sure how I missed it. Why did he leave AEG by “mutual” agreement? What’s the real story?

    • The *real* story was told to Forbes writer Mike Ozanian:

      “Here is what I have been hearing from people very close to the situation who would only speak off the record: (Phil) Anschutz got wind that Leiweke was trying to influence the choice of a buyer for AEG. Anschutz became infuriated and fired him and ended the sale. Makes sense. Why wouldn’t Leiweke want to have a say in who bought AEG given he was hoping to stay on? Trouble is Anschutz asked Leiweke to make sales presentations, not try to determine the winner.

      “Leiweke has a terrific reputation as a salesman. But he may have been too aggressive for Anschutz. Calls I made to AEG and Leiweke over the past couple of days were not returned.”

      That wouldn’t surprise me. Leiweke is not only energetic but arrogant as Hell.

  3. This is an interesting move….

    Payne and the rest of the leadership up north seem to be aggressive early.

    One of the biggest complaints over the last few years regarding Toronto has been MLSE and its ability to capitalize on the obvious interest the team generates in that city

    In other words, folks said they just didnt care squad-wise.

    They brought in Klinnsman to evaluate things and that let to the triumvirate of Mariner and Co. Unfortnately, that didnt pan out in an expedient manner…

    Payne, if he has anything to do with this; knows the importance of change and change in a big way.

    As stated everywhere, Leiweke was at the helm of the most sucessful MLS franchise in recent memory. His machinations were instrumental in the beckham thing, and moreso the baility of LA to ‘creatively’ allocate funds to pay for the talent assembled on the field.

    TFC represents a lower profile market (well, perhaps not in Canada) but his work here can weigh heavily on the development of the sport up there…

    Of course, This means that CONCACAF in general, will also benefit.

  4. Remember he’s been hired by MLSE, not TFC. So he’ll be handling all their sport teams. Some of the Toronto media are speculating he was brought in to get Phil Jackson to coach the Raptors. So his attention will be divided and it’ll be interesting which teams gets the most attention first.

    • Divided? LA Kings and the Stanley Cup. LA Galaxy with two championships. Divided? This guy is unique. Balanced amongst the sports team is quite accurate.

  5. Trust me Toronto will make future noise. They will have the resources and $ to back up there goals. Leadership starts at the top and it will roll down hill with Leiweke. LA Kings fans once called him Tim Lie Weekly until the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup.

  6. This is not good!!!
    What is going on in LA?
    It looks like AEG is off-loading talent, unles I’m over-thinking this, I don’t see this as a good move for the benchmark franchise in MLS!

  7. TFC seem to be putting a plan in motion — finally after 7 years. Legit question, can Payne and Leiweke co-exist in the same club??? They both like to have control and I could see some butting of heads. On paper this looks like a homerun and for TFC’s sake, I hope it is.

  8. I’ve always wondered what the typical old-ish Euro’s list of North American cities he wants to play in is in order-obviously it varies, but based on signings I think it goes something like this-
    1) LA
    2) NY
    3) Toronto
    4) Montreal
    5) Vancouver
    6) Chicago
    7) Seattle

    For some of those its tough to decouple the team/fans and the city (which I guess is a good thing and shows MLS is growing). Insane the Bay Area and Boston aren’t higher.

    • You forgot Miami and Vegas. Every old-ish Euro player wants to live in Miami or Vegas.

      ….ooooh they don’t have teams?

    • DC would be a great location. Unfortunately, after one big and failed DP, we’ve given up. Now we’ll just rely on crap and cheap DPs.

      • Yeah I was thinking of putting them somewhere in there because of the Kaka rumors, but with Euro’s perceptions of every city in the US besides LA/NY so skewed, I assume they think DC is just politicians/administrators/has no nightlife.

      • DC plays in a dump of a stadium that is a big concrete eyesore and on the verge of falling down. No Euro star wants to play there. And save the history talk, because none of them know EARLY MLS history.

  9. Leiweke was a GREAT president for the Galaxy. I was incredibly disappointed when he left. I still don’t know why he and AEG parted ways. At any rate, Toronto, you’re receiving a classy dude to run your organization. Tim dreams big and usually makes his dreams into a reality.

    • Except when he lied to the fan base about the Beckham/AC Milan situation.

      Leiweke is overrated – Bruce Arena deserves 99.9% of the credit for the Galaxy’s recent success. The other 0.01% goes to Leiweke for getting Arena to join the team.

      (But Leiweke signed Beckham! Sure, he did, and look how successful the Galaxy were with Beckham pre-Arena.)

      • What Beckham did for the MLS trumps any performance on the field. He opened the eyes of the world to MLS. Period. Without him, there’d be no Keene, Henry, or any of the other Euro based DPs in MLS. Maybe he didn’t win the cup for the Galaxy, but I’m enjoying the fact that quality of play in MLS is 100x better than pre-Beckham, all because he put MLS on the map globally speaking.

      • ^this…

        beckham’s arrival and stint with LA was invaluable for the league as a whole. with it, I don’t believe mls would have come so far, so fast.

      • You’re right, Michael. Leiweke is soooooooooo lucky Arena was available because Leiweke (in combination with Alexi Lalas) nearly destroyed the Galaxy before Arena arrived. For three or four seasons, Lalas made deal after deal after deal trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and destroyed any chemistry the team had. He did that because Leiweke puts a lot of pressure on people.

        Also, Leiweke was the one who hired Beckham’s best friend, Terry Byrne, as a special consultant. Byrne recommended Ruud Gullit, one of the worst coaches in MLS history. Leiweke did this because he’s star-struck. He emphasizes celebrity and the “prawn-sandwich crowd” as opposed to the average fan. In fact, for the Los Angeles Kings’ season opener at home after the lockout ended, AEG charged triple figures for nosebleed seats usually worth $30. That had Leiweke’s fingerprints all over it.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Toronto was the first of what I like to call, “The Modern Era” of the MLS fan atmosphere. Before Toronto, my beloved DC United had unquestionably the best fan base. That town deserves to be run at an elite level. Those fans deserve to be run at an elite level. And now with Leiweke and Payne at the FO helm, there are no more excuses for this team to do poorly.


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