The company that owns the Toronto Raptors of the NBA and other sports-related assets in that city — including the NHL’s Maple Leafs — is lobbying three levels of government for support to bring the NBA all-star game to Toronto.
Rajani Kamath, MLSE’s director of corporate communications, told The Lobby Monitor that the company is seeking letters of support from the federal and provincial governments, as well as the City of Toronto, to land the event.
“It’s for letters that we require for bidding for an all-star game,” she said when asked by The Lobby Monitor about entries in the lobbyist registries of the municipal, provincial and federal governments.
Kamath answered “basketball” when asked which of MLSE's four teams is seeking the event.
MLSE also owns the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and Major League Soccer's Toronto FC.
Kamath would not say what year MLSE is seeking to host the all-star game.
The company has hired lobbyist John Capobianco of Fleishman-Hillard Canada to represent it, according to its entries in the various lobbyist registries.
Its federal registration for contact with the Prime Minister’s Office was activated Aug. 1. “Sports” is listed as the subject matter in the registration. The “Details” section of the filing shows “Policies or Program” as the category, with the description being: “Providing information and updates to obtain non-monetary government support for MLSE activities.”
Both the provincial and municipal lobbyist registry entries make mention of “support for international sporting event” as the subject matter being discussed.
The Toronto registry shows the file was activated Aug. 3, and officials within the mayor’s office are the points of contact.
The Ontario entry shows the file open since Nov. 15, 2010 with a recent amendment on July 27 of this year. Lottery and gaming policies are also among the topics listed in the provincial registration. Contact with several branches of the government is intended, including the premier’s office.
Majority ownership of MLSE is slated to be transferred to Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc. from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan as part of a $1.32-billion deal announced last December. The transaction is expected to close this summer, according to a recent article in the Toronto Star.