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It’s not always easy owning the Maple Leafs

(L - R) CEO of BCE/Bell Canada George Cope, CEO of Rogers Communications Nadir Mohamed and Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) Larry Tanenbaum

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

That Colby Armstrong buyout money doesn't come cheap.

Well, that and the NHL lockout haven't exactly made the purchase of 75 per cent of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment a fruitful endeavour for Rogers and Bell to date.

As documented by Globe media reporter Steve Ladurantaye on Wednesday morning, Rogers released its first quarterly statement as owners of Toronto's NHL, NBA, AHL and MLS franchises and posted an $8-million loss on the teams in the three months involved.

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In its quarterly release, Rogers lists its "net cash investment" in MLSE at $533-million with "an additional $7-million of costs" coming as part of the purchase.

"During the three months ended September 30, 2012, a loss of $8 million was recorded in share of income (loss) of associates and joint ventures," the statement said of Rogers new asset.

The effect of the lockout in this quarter likely wasn't substantial, as the Leafs cancelled only two home preseason games over that stretch. If regular-season games aren't played over the following three months, however, Rogers and Bell's profit loss could be substantial.

The Leafs raked in roughly $200-million in hockey-related revenues last season as the league's richest team despite again missing the playoffs, and their remarkable profit margins will be the centrepiece of the more than $1-billion deal.

Given their profit levels, the Leafs ownership actually stands to lose more during the lockout than any other team, as season ticket holders' cash is sitting aside and collective interest for any cancelled games.

What'll be interesting is how a new collective bargaining agreement affects Toronto, as revenues sharing is expected to be increased substantially leaguewide and the Leafs already paid in the highest share at $20-million.

In sports like baseball, wealthy teams put some 30 per cent of their local revenues into a shared pot, which would mean a much higher commitment from the Leafs. To date, however, the NHL hasn't proposed such substantial sharing.

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As for that $2-million in buyout money due Armstrong, that's not technically paid out until players begin collecting salaries, something that has been delayed by the lockout. By then, Rogers will also have to worry about getting Darcy Tucker – bought out more than four years ago – his money, too.

But there are plenty of other expenses involved with the team, including paying the franchise's massive front office staff, injured players and those in the minor leagues.

It's not always easy owning the Leafs.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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