When asked what would make Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment grow and become successful, incoming president and CEO Tim Leiweke's formula was simple: "Trophies."
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Leiweke, who will oversee a company that owns Toronto FC in addition to the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors, made it clear that his success in a similar role with Anschutz Entertainment Group stemmed from on-field accomplishments.
“If you look at the run we had [with AEG], what made the Staples Center phenomenal was the content," he explained. "You had the Lakers winning six championships during that time. You go open up the Home Depot Center and the Galaxy have won four championships and you convince David Beckham to come over. And then the Kings win the Stanley Cup. It makes you look a lot brighter and it makes the building look a lot better when you are hanging those kinds of banners.“
And for a company, and city, that hasn't seen the championships pile up like they did in Los Angeles, the task is clear: "[Winning is] what we have to do with Maple Leaf Sports,” Leiweke added.
That philosophy and passion likely came as no surprise to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who was quick to express his delight that Leiweke will be involved with Major League Soccer again.
“I am thrilled to have Tim back in Major League Soccer with MLSE,” Garber said in a statement provided to MLSsoccer.com. “He is without doubt one of the best executives in the sports industry and I look forward to working again with him closely at the league level and with Toronto FC.”
Another executive who is no doubt looking forward to working with Leiweke is Toronto FC president and GM Kevin Payne, who Leiweke spoke of very positively during his discussion with the Toronto media.
“Kevin Payne and I have known each other for a long time," Leiweke said. "Kevin worked for me when we owned D.C. United at AEG. We are very familiar with one another."
On a day in which Payne signed his first Designated Player for Toronto FC in Matías Laba, Leiweke spoke of his belief in the positive impact that DPs can have for MLS clubs and of his desire to duplicate the success he had with Beckham.
“I’ve talked to Becks a lot over the last two weeks about this opportunity," Leiweke said. "He continues to be a partner on the vision of where we should be going in terms of growing the sport [in North America]. I think the fans of Toronto Football Club deserve that kind of player if we can find the right one.
"We were very lucky at the Galaxy to find David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. I have been told by the board and the owners that if we find the right guy, they are all in and that they are committed to that move.”
As for other possible big-name moves on the immediate horizon for TFC, Leiweke was cautious regarding the chances they could accomplish a signing in the coming months.
“Kevin and I have already talked about it," Leiweke said. "For those kinds of transactions, the window is coming up very soon. So my guess is that we will miss that in the next month or two because we aren’t prepared.
“If there is something out there that means that we can make the team better and find a personality that we ultimately ingrain within that football club, we’ll do it. If we don’t do it this summer we will work on doing it at year's end.”