October 29, 2015
Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), today announced that Michael Friisdahl has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of MLSE, beginning in December, 2015.
“Given our unparalleled sports executive and team leadership, MLSE’s CEO search focused on the appointment of a seasoned Canadian business executive to lead the organization and we’ve found exactly what we were looking for in Michael,” said Mr. Tanenbaum. “As both an entrepreneur and a C-level executive in consumer-facing businesses at the Canadian and international level, Michael has shown an unwavering commitment to delivering for the customer. His focus will be on supporting our fans and our teams while maximizing the potential of MLSE’s iconic sports, entertainment and real estate assets.”
“It is a true privilege to be chosen to lead MLSE, a proudly Canadian sports and entertainment company that rivals any in North America and indeed the world. As a Torontonian, I’m thrilled by the opportunity to focus all of our resources on supporting the Leafs, Raptors, TFC, Marlies and Raptors 905, and making Toronto the championship city that our fans deserve,” said Michael Friisdahl. “We have Toronto FC in the playoffs, Raptors 905 tipping off next month, NBA All-Star and the World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre in 2016, Grey Cup 2016 at BMO Field and the 100th anniversary of the Maple Leafs in 2017. These are exciting times for Toronto, indeed for all Canadian sports fans, and I’m very proud to be leading the MLSE team that will deliver for them.”
Friisdahl has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada’s Leisure Group since it was formed in 2012, combining Air Canada Vacations tour operations with Air Canada rouge, the company’s successful leisure airline. With Friisdahl at the helm, Air Canada rouge has seen significant growth and has been an important contributor to Air Canada’s very successful transformation.
Friisdahl brings an extensive background in customer service, marketing and sales management, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and business integration to his new role at MLSE. Prior to joining the Air Canada executive team, Friisdahl was CEO of Thomas Cook North America and a member of the international Group Executive Board of Thomas Cook Group plc. He was previously Chief Operating Officer of Thomas Cook Canada and later North America. Entering the industry as an entrepreneur in the mid-1980s, Friisdahl successfully built a travel wholesale business that merged to create The Holiday Network and become Canada’s leading independent wholesaler, specializing in independent travel packages. As a partner and President and CEO of The Holiday Network, he continued to grow the business until its acquisition by Thomas Cook Group plc (formerly MyTravel plc), which led to his move into the corporate and international spheres.
Friisdahl’s predecessor Tim Leiweke was appointed CEO of MLSE in April 2013 and announced in August 2014 that he would depart the company to pursue new equity opportunities in the sports and entertainment industry.
“On behalf of everyone at MLSE, I sincerely thank Tim for his support for the fans and his many contributions to our organization. We wish him the very best for the future,” said Mr. Tanenbaum.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) is one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment companies that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), the Toronto Raptors (NBA), the Toronto Marlies (AHL), Toronto FC (MLS), Toronto FC II, Raptors 905 (NBA D-League), Air Canada Centre, Maple Leaf Square and three digital channels — Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and GOLTV Canada. MLSE has also invested in four of Toronto’s sports facilities — Ricoh Coliseum, home of the Marlies, BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, Lamport Stadium, and the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, the practice facility for the Maple Leafs and Marlies. MLSE operates and manages events at Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field.