Tim Leiweke says his desire to be an entrepreneur led to his decision to leave Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
In radio interviews on Sportstnet 590 The Fan and TSN 1050, the outgoing MLSE president and CEO said he and the executive board knew his stay would be a short one because he wanted to run his own business.
“I have a dream, which is at some point or another I need to do my own company so I get up every morning scared to death that I’m going to fail and that it’s my money, my equity and it’s all my responsibility,” Leiweke said on The Fan. “And if I don’t do that before I retire and call it a day, I will regret never making that decision.
“That was always my intention. I took a timeout from that dream to come here to help create the right atmosphere and culture for our dream here at Maple Leaf Sports.”
Leiweke took over in April 2013 and will be there until June 30, 2015, or until a successor is appointed.
At times during his 16 months on the job, Leiweke said he came off as brutally honest, which caught some people off-guard.
“Occasionally my energy level and my drive and my bullish attitude towards attacking problems and solving problems is hard for some people,” he said on TSN 1050. “But that’s, I think, why they wanted me here. They knew and I knew that that kind of style is not a style that lasts for 10 years.”
Leiweke said there was still “work to do” for the Maple Leafs of the NHL, Raptors of the NBA and Toronto FC of MLS. He also said on TSN 1050 that he was still making progress on the city’s bid to host the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Before he leaves, Leiweke said he wanted Toronto FC to make the playoffs for the first time in its history, the Maple Leafs to get back to the playoffs and the Raptors to build on their best season to date.
“I don’t care about legacy, I care about winning,” Leiweke told TSN 1050. “One thing I’d like to accomplish before I walk out the door is to put these three teams and these franchises in a position where they were in the playoffs and we have a culture that will keep us in the playoffs and in the hunt year after year. And we’re not there yet.”
Promising to continue working for as long as he remains on the job, Leiweke said on The Fan he won’t make any more declarations about a Stanley Cup parade through the streets of Toronto.
“You won’t hear that out of my mouth again,” he said.
Leiweke said his decision to leave had nothing to do with his family not liking the weather, as had been speculated since MLSE confirmed his departure. He called Toronto “magnificent” and “beautiful” and denied that had anything to do with his leaving.
“The winters require Canada Goose, but that’s why they created that company,” Leiweke said on The Fan. “This has nothing to do with the weather, it has nothing to do with the city. I assure you this has been an absolutely overwhelming and enjoyable experience.”