Report: Key voice in Bon Jovi inner circle about to leave Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
updated 1:01 PM , June 23, 2015
In another sign Bon Jovi's bid to buy the Buffalo Bills might be imploding, CBC reporter Elliotte Friedman tweeted this afternoon Tim Leiweke will be leaving Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment soon.
That doesn't sound like someone who has confidence he'll be doing a Bills victory lap.
Leiweke already has denied the report with a statement:
"Any report stating that I am leaving MLSE is untrue. We are completely focused on the seasons at hand and I am not thinking of anything else but that. I am proud of all that we have accomplished here over the past year, but we have much more to do."
The Buffalo News has reported sources close to the sales process within the past week have called the Bon Jovi group "unfocused and disorganized" and said there was "major tension" within.
Leiweke is a prominent -- but seldom discussed -- figure in Bon Jovi's inner circle. MLSE hired him to be president and CEO last year with the mission of bringing the NFL to Toronto.
Bon Jovi's partners in attempting to purchase the Bills are MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum and members of the Rogers Communications family.
Leiweke has been close to Bon Jovi since Leiweke was president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group in Los Angeles. AEG has produced Bon Jovi's world tours since 2005. Bon Jovi has performed at the opening of AEG-owned arenas.
About four months after Leiweke joined MLSE, it was announced a Bon Jovi banner would be raised to the Air Canada Centre rafters. The move upset Maple Leafs and Raptors fans, who view the rafters as hallowed space for sports legends.
Leiweke was an influential force in AEG's acquisitions of the Los Angeles Kings and part of the Los Angeles Lakers and construction of the Staples Center.
A report that Leiweke would be willing to walk away at such a crucial time in the Bills' sales process is intriguing.
When I went to Los Angeles in May to write about the NFL void in America's second-largest market, Leiweke's name came up with Bernard Parks, the city councilman and former police chief. Parks was highly skeptical the NFL would let the Bills leave Western New York, but ...
"Tim Leiweke is a guy I generally would not bet against," Parks said. "Tim Leiweke has succeeded on about everything he has said.
"He not only turned an asphalt parking lot into L.A. Live, a multi-billion-dollar complex, but hotels. He led us to believe he had a team in his hip pocket as soon as we could get these things done. I don't know what happened between him and Anschutz, but even billionaires have a limit."