When the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan announced earlier this month that they are selling their 66-percent stake (estimated at $1.3 billion) in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the sports business world was abuzz.
Enter businessman Darren Thompson, who grew up in New Brunswick and now lives in Alberta. This man has an idea. It's an idea he believes enough Leafs fans can get behind. It's an idea that his website specifically states in its FAQ is "not a scam".
Thompson's idea is to get the support of one million people to donate $1,000 to purchase the 66-percent stake in MLSE that's for sale.
That's $1 billion dollars with which to enter into the bidding for MLSE.
"It's always been a dream of mine to own a professional sports team, and being a good Canadian, that professional sports team should be a hockey team," Thompson said. "I believe there's enough people out there to truly and honestly do this."
That 66-percent share of MLSE also includes FC Toronto, the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies, Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, and real estate in the area. Despite the initiative being mostly Leafs-based, Thompson told Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun that anyone who invests that isn't a Leafs fan can choose which team their money will go towards. So if you've been a Vince Carter fanboy and want to see him lace them up for the Raptors one last time, your $1,000 could go towards signing him to a bloated contract.
Having already spoken to the Green Bay Packers brass, a team owned by the community, Thompson is looking at other business models to make his dream work, including one similar to that of the OTPP.
So we ask you, dear readers: If your favorite team was up for sale, is this the type of business proposition that'd make you plunk down your hard-earned money towards?
Or in the post-Bernie Madoff world, would you be incredibly suspect of a random guy who doesn't live in your team's city, who's asking you for a grand?