Bell Canada partners with Kilmer Group to buy the Toronto Argonauts

Bell Canada and the Kilmer Group, the private equity firm of Canadian businessman Larry Tanenbaum, have agreed to purchase the Toronto Argonauts Football Club of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The seller in the transaction, the financial details of which were not disclosed, is sports entrepreneur David Braley. Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are North America’s oldest continuously operated professional football club. They have won the CFL championship game 16 times. The acquisition is expected to close before the end of 2015.

PRESS RELEASE

Bell Canada and Kilmer Group to acquire the Toronto Argonauts

The Argos to play at BMO Field beginning with the 2016 Canadian Football League season

TORONTO, May 20, 2015 – Bell Canada and Larry Tanenbaum’s Kilmer Group today announced their agreement to jointly acquire the Toronto Argonauts Football Club of the Canadian Football League (CFL) from sports entrepreneur David Braley. Financial terms of the transaction, expected to close on December 31, 2015, were not disclosed.

“The Argos are an important team for this great city and a crucial component in the ongoing success of the Canadian Football League. We’re delighted to invest in the most successful Canadian pro football team of all time, and look forward to seeing the Boatmen play at beautiful BMO Field next year,” said Larry Tanenbaum, Chair of Toronto-based investment company Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited and Chair of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

“Bell is proud to welcome the storied Argonauts club to our team. The Argos and the entire CFL are key to Bell Media’s unbeatable array of sports content available to fans across broadband mobile, TV and Internet platforms,” said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE Inc. “Bell has made the industry-leading network and content investments required to deliver the best sports action across every screen consumers may choose. We look forward to cheering on the Double Blue as the 2015 CFL season begins next month on TSN and RDS.”

“The Argos could not have found better new owners than Larry Tanenbaum and Bell, who are dedicated to bringing the best of sports to Canadian fans everywhere in innovative ways. We welcome them as an important new part of Canada’s national football game,” said David Braley, the renowned sports entrepreneur and retired Senator who has owned the Argos since February 2010. Mr. Braley is also owner of the CFL’s BC Lions franchise. “I look forward to a great 2015 CFL season with the Argos, and to formally welcoming Bell and Larry Tanenbaum to the League when they assume ownership at the end of the year.”

“This is wonderful news for the city of Toronto and one of our most venerable franchises, and with the Toronto Argonauts moving to a renovated BMO Field in 2016, it is the start of a bold new era for our league in Canada’s biggest market,” said Jeffrey L Orridge, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. “On behalf of our Board of Governors, I want to welcome Bell Canada and the Kilmer Group, thank David Braley for his lifelong devotion to our league, and recognize CFL Chairman Jim Lawson, who has worked tirelessly and passionately behind the scenes to help make this historic day possible.”

“I am excited that the Double Blue will be making their return to The Exhibition grounds in a state-of-the-art facility,” said Mayor of Toronto and former CFL Commissioner John Tory. “The Argonauts’ move to BMO Field will ensure Canada’s oldest and most celebrated football franchise continues to succeed.”

Bell Media’s TSN and RDS sports networks have exclusive media rights to all CFL pre-season and regular season games, the Playoffs, and the Grey Cup. The agreement includes TV broadcast, digital properties as well as radio rights for TSN Radio stations in Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Vancouver. TSN has broadcast CFL games since 1986 and French-language network RDS since 1989. TSN and RDS became exclusive broadcasters of the CFL and Grey Cup in 2008.

The Argos will begin playing at BMO Field beginning with the 2016 CFL season. Located at Toronto’s Exhibition Place and operated by MLSE, BMO Field is also home to MLSE team Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). Extensively refurbished for the TFC home opener on May 10 and the upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, the updated BMO Field ensures an optimum playing surface for both MLS and CFL football with features including reinforced natural turf.

Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are North America’s oldest continuously operated professional football club and the oldest pro sports team of any kind on the continent that still operates with its original name.

The Argonauts have won the CFL championship game a record 16 times, most recently at the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. The team is nicknamed the Boatmen because it was founded by the Argonaut Rowing Club, which owned the club for its first 83 years.

About Kilmer
For over 40 years the Kilmer Group, owned by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, has been helping to build Canadian businesses through long-term funding and leadership. This has included areas as diverse as heavy construction, building products, cable television, publishing, electronics manufacturing, food processing, sports, clinical research organizations, environmental rehabilitation, and infrastructure development. Current infrastructure projects include the development of the Pan Am Athletes’ Village in partnership with DREAM, and the design, build, and operation of the ONroute Ontario Highway Service Centres with partners HMS Host and Canadian Tire. For more information, please visit www.kilmergroup.com

About Bell
Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is Canada’s largest communications company, providing consumers and business customers with wireless, TV, Internet, home phone and business communications services. Bell Media is Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, out of home, and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by Montréal’s BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more information, please visit Bell.ca.

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk and Bell Let’s Talk Day, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Media inquiries:

BELL: Jason Laszlo, 1-855-614-6602 jason.laszlo@bell.ca

KILMER: Lindsay Everitt, 416-597-4174 leveritt@goodmans.ca

ARGOS: Eric Holmes, 416-341-2733 eholmes@argonauts.ca

MLSE: Dave Haggith, 416-450-1681 dave.haggith@mlse.com

CFL: Paulo Senra, 416-865-4067 psenra@cfl.ca

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mark Blinch