Leiweke is on trophy chase in Toronto

By Paul Kennedy

Tim Leiweke's success with AEG was part-sports, part-entertainment, part-facilities. He boils down his goal with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which he joined Friday as president and CEO, as "trophies."

“If you look at the run we had [with AEG], what made the Staples Center phenomenal was the content," he said on a conference call with reporters. "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."

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment owns the NBA Raptors, NHL Maple Leafs and MLS's Toronto FC, which has yet to make the playoffs in its six seasons.

In soccer circles, Leiweke is best known for bringing Beckham to the Galaxy in 2007. He said he had talked with Beckham, now at Paris St. Germain, in recent weeks, but he cautioned against making a Beckham-like signing with Toronto in the short term,

“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," Leiweke said. "If we don’t do it this summer, we will work on doing it at year's end.”

Leiweke will be reunited in Toronto with Kevin Payne, who joined Toronto FC as its president in late November. AEG had previously owned D.C. United, and Payne worked as senior vice president and managing director of AEG Soccer.

INDY ELEVEN. The NASL team that will begin play in Indianapolis in 2014 will be called Indy Eleven. Besides the soccer reference, Indy Eleven pays homage to Indiana's 11th Regiment that served in the Union Army in the Civil War under Colonel Lew Wallace, who later authored the literary masterpiece “Ben Hur.” Thanks to a strong grassroots campaign -- and support from its Brickyard Battalion supporters group -- Indy Eleven has sold more than 3,000 season-ticket deposits.

KINO GROUNDBREAKING. Groundbreaking was held Thursday on the new stadium in the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson Ariz. Work is expected to be completed on the $2.8 million project in late October on the stadium that will be home to matches for the PDL's FC Tucson and MLS spring training. FC Tucson expects more than 100,000 people to visit the complex each year.
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