For Richard Peddie the concept of a winning organization at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) goes beyond game action - that to be a winner on the ice, on the court and on the pitch, one must be a winner off it as well. Peddie’s company vision is clear – WIN. Accordingly, the company’s core values are: Excite Every Fan, Inspire Our People, be Dedicated To Our Teams, and be Leaders In Our Community.
It is a personal practice of these visions and values that has enabled Peddie to continually place his mark on the North American professional sports and entertainment scene. In his 10th year as President and Chief Executive Officer of MLSE, Peddie oversees all business and team operations related to the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Marlies, the operations of Air Canada Centre, the organization’s two television channels, and the $500 million commercial development known as Maple Leaf Square. On July 1, 2003 he was appointed to the Board of Directors for MLSE.
Under his vibrant leadership the company continues to expand its growth with a dynamic vision for the future. In May 2006, the organization unveiled its newest sports enterprise – Toronto FC. Toronto FC, the 13th member of Major League Soccer and the first outside the United States, has proven to be one of the most successful start-up teams in major league sports history. Since opening play in April of 2007 in the new 20,000 seat BMO Field at Exhibition Place, Toronto FC has sold out every home game and established league standards in several areas of business operation. It was runner-up to the Boston Red Sox as Sports Business Journal’s Professional Sports Franchise of the Year. Toronto hosted the 2008 Major League Soccer All-Star Game. BMO Field is operated by MLSE and is accessible to community soccer leagues as a result of pivotal relationships MLSE has formed with the Canadian Soccer Association and the Ontario Soccer Association to further develop the sport.
MLSE launched its first venture into outside building operations in September 2004 with an agreement to lease Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum as the home of the Marlies, the Leafs’ AHL farm team, and to be in charge of operations and event planning for the facility. On April 19, 2005 the company announced a major expansion initiative with its participation in the development of a $500 million Maple Leaf Square – a premier sports and entertainment destination to be located next to Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto. The project includes both fine dining and a high-tech sports-themed restaurant, Hôtel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square, a 171 room boutique hotel, a 48,000-square-foot store Longo’s grocery store, 872 condominiums, office space, a high-definition broadcast studio and a 170,000 square foot retail space anchored by a 9,000 square foot Leafs, Raptors, Marlies and Toronto FC store. Maple Leaf Square is presently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2010.
In 2001, MLSE became the first North American sports franchise to unveil separate television channels dedicated to coverage of its hockey and basketball entities. The stations have witnessed substantial growth in programming and viewership. Developing new innovative digital platforms to deliver Leafs, Raptors, Marlies and FC content to fans is going to be one of MLSE’s primary initiatives in the coming years.
Peddie was named president of the Raptors on November 22, 1996, but his first foray into professional team sports came in 1993 with the Palestra Group, a consortium of local businessmen seeking to bring an NBA expansion franchise to Toronto. The group, headed by Larry Tanenbaum, current Chairman of the Board of MLSE, was unsuccessful in securing the rights to the franchise but did establish Toronto as a viable entry into the NBA marketplace. It showcased the city’s overwhelming capability to support a new franchise in uncharted waters.
Immediately prior to joining the Raptors, Peddie was President and COO of NetStar Communications, formerly Labatt Communications, the parent company for The Sports Network (TSN), Le Réseau des sports (RDS), The Discovery Channel and Dome Productions. In July 1995, he was one of the key individuals in the management-led consortium that purchased the company.
In 1989, after 19 years in the packaged goods industry, Peddie accepted the post of president and chief executive officer of the Stadium Corporation of Ontario (SkyDome). During his five years at SkyDome, he helped to host more than 1,000 events and entertain more than 29 million guests. The facility was chosen Stadium of the Year four consecutive years by the Sports and Entertainment Industry and in 1992, Peddie was honoured as the North American Facility Manager of the Year.
Peddie began his business career with Colgate Palmolive in 1970 and moved to General Foods three years later. In the spring of 1983 he was promoted to the position of president of Hostess Foods. In 1985, he left to become the president and CEO of Pillsbury Canada, and during his tenure the company displayed record growth and was recognized as one of Canada’s “100 Best Companies” by The Financial Post. Peddie received the Donald B. McCaskill Award for Marketing Excellence in Canada for his efforts with Pillsbury.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Peddie graduated from the University of Windsor in 1970 and received an honourary doctorate from the institution in 2001. Peddie accepted an invitation to teach a bachelor of commerce course in strategic leadership to fourth year students at the University of Windsor in the fall of 2002.