Anybody who has played an EA Sports hockey title in the last decade will be familiar with the create-a-team function whereby the gamer is allowed to shape a franchise, choose its name, logo and location and in some cases even build their own virtual arena. Taking that concept to a slightly grander scale yesterday at the Rosewater Supper Club, yet another “consortium” broke ranks from correct NHL procedure to unveil their somewhat bizarre vision for a new expansion franchise in Toronto.
Such is the fashionable trend for supplicants in the GTR at the present, the group fronted by Andrew Lopez and a somewhat corralled looking Herb Carnegie laid out a bells and whistles presentation on the NHL’s next expansion franchise, the “Toronto Legacy.” Wearing string tied red and black hockey jerseys adorned by the “Toronto Legacy” brand logo, Lopez of the Toronto Legacy Group also used the press conference to show hastily compiled sketches of a proposed 30,000 seater hockey arena in Downsview Park that would comprise an leisure center, Olympic sized swimming pool, four outside rinks and parking amid it’s NHL ready facilities.
Claiming to have $1 billion in primarily Canadian financing in place alongside links to investment companies and groups worth over $100billion Lopez, Carnegie and fellow campaigner Paul Pellegrini set about their unique, long-term community vision for the Toronto Legacy.
Altruistically, 25% of all future net profits would be divided between charitable foundations alongside all seat license fees while for the fans, half the seat prices would cost an affordable $50 dollars.
Naturally having materialized out of almost nowhere, the Toronto Legacy Group have met with derisive speculation. While many believe the Downsview Park area would be a suitable location for a large scale sports facility, few are convinced by the apparent funding the project alleges and fewer still are convinced by their tactics.
With the ongoing PR disaster in Phoenix overshadowing the NHL showcase Stanley Cup, Gary Bettman is unlikely to be pleased to see any alternative to Balsille in the GTR, after all the league are determined to put the breaks on what could be an extremely damaging precedence. With the NHL and Bill Daly completely in the dark about the Legacy group proposal prior to yesterday, the upper echelons are going to be left scratching their heads to the unprecedented channels prospective owners are now taking in light of Balsille.
Showing a complete and underhand disregard for league protocol, the Toronto Legacy Group have sought widespread media attention prior to approaching the league, even on the most tentative level and in turn stolen Bettman’s onus on maintaining Phoenix in Phoenix and thrust it once more into the public, and more importantly, Canadian domain.
Be it clumsy or conspiratorial, the Legacy Group could have potentially tipped the balance toward GTR relocation had it not been for the pie-in-the-sky demeanor with which the expansion bid has been received.
For their part, and much like the NHL, the MLSE have remained quiet, perhaps quieter. With their territorial indemnity clause still looming over all the Hamilton talk, not to mention Kevin Maguire’s ever more obscure Vaughan proposal, the only part the MLSE played yesterday was being schmoozed by Lopez over the OTPP.
With Daly brushing aside both the bid and the 2012-’13 timeframe with a flat rebuttal concerning future league expansion plans, it appears the, five-years-in-the-making “I had a dream” Toronto Legacy and their seat-of-their-pants business acumen may have some years yet before they can aspire to be the Toronto Maple Leafs little community brother.