QUOTED: Rob Ford vs. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke
“I just don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay for it. It should be paid for by the private sector. It would be nice if we wanted to expand Deco Labels and have the taxpayers help us out, but it doesn’t work like that.”
—Rob Ford, explaining why, at last week’s executive committee meeting, he was the lone vote against contributing $10 million of city money towards expanding BMO Field, home of Toronto FC. The $120-million expansion, to be funded mostly by Toronto FC owner Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, would benefit Ford’s beloved Toronto Argonauts, who are expected to be relocating to BMO Field in 2018.
Oddly, Ford seems unaware of the fact that the city expects to recover its $10 million over the 23-year lifetime of the agreement, thanks to annual payments from MLSE. In fact, staff are projecting a net surplus of $4.3 million. In other words, the cash outlay is an investment, not a grant.
“This is the guy [Ford] I went in and met with. He was mad at us that we didn’t go through him at first. He wanted this to be his plan. We took him through it and he said, ‘I’m for this. I want this. I’ll support you.’ [Pause.] I’m extremely happy he’s not supporting us.”
—MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke, speaking to Toronto FC season ticket holders before last Saturday’s home opener. In case it isn’t clear from the quote, Leiweke is accusing Ford of turning against the plan simply because he can’t take credit for it. Whatever the case, Toronto’s sports-loving mayor has made an enemy of one of the most powerful men in Toronto sports.