To the extent most people know Edward Rogers, it’s as a companion to his charity-backing, fashionista wife Suzanne.
The 51-year-old chair of the board at Rogers Communications Inc. Rogers Communications Inc. is content to stay in the background in corporate and social settings. After growing up with a larger-than-life father in founder Ted Rogers, who passed away in 2008, Mr. Rogers wisely hired proven executives to run the telecom company.
But Mr. Rogers does have outside business interests, including one shared with a handful of close friends who all date back to his days in Sigma Chi fraternity at Western University. He has quietly become a force in real estate development.
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Rogers and the real estate arm of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Brookfield Asset Management Inc. are moving forward with plans to demolish the Rogers Centre and redevelop the 12.7-acre site with a new ballpark and condo and office towers. Suddenly, what is basically a hobby for Mr. Rogers, complements his company’s interests.
For an heir trying to establish his own legacy at a family controlled business, this could be a defining moment.
Mr. Rogers invests in real estate through a private development company called Constantine Enterprises, founded in 2013 with fellow Western graduate Robert Hiscox, its chief executive. Toronto-based Constantine is not involved in the Rogers Centre or any other Rogers corporate property. Constantine takes on projects that require patience, a deft touch with politicians and builders, and significant capital.
For example, Constantine stepped up as a backer of Canada’s tallest condo, an 85-storey tower in Toronto called The One, after one of its financiers, pharmaceutical billionaire Barry Sherman, and his wife were killed in their home three years ago.
The One is not an investment for the faint of heart. The project, led by Mizrahi Developments, has an estimated $1-billion price tag and is taking years to build, exposing its owners to the ups and downs of a volatile Toronto condo market. On The One and Constantine’s portfolio of condos, office buildings and medical facilities, Mr. Hiscox said in a recent marketing report that the developer takes “a multigenerational approach” to ownership.
That sort of long-term view will be required to wring value from the Rogers Centre, a stadium with a retractable roof and artificial turf that seemed ahead of its time when it opened in 1989, yet quickly became dated as baseball moved to cozy parks with real grass.
Rogers bought the stadium – then known as SkyDome – for just $25-million in 2004, after acquiring the Toronto Blue Jays four years earlier for U$137-million. The telecom company’s planned partnership with Brookfield could see that $25-million investment transformed into a multibillion-dollar property play.
However, three levels of government and a host of other stakeholders will need to be sold on the project’s merits. There’s no better ambassador for the development than Mr. Rogers, who touches all the bases as chair of the Blue Jays, controlling shareholder at Rogers and an experienced hand at real estate.
If Mr. Rogers can play a role in realizing the value tied up in the Rogers Centre, he’ll be doing his father one better. In his best-selling autobiography Relentless, written with former Globe and Mail reporter Robert Brehl, Ted Rogers highlights spending $499,431 in the 1960s for 106 acres of farmland near Mississauga as a future home for radio transmitters.
In typical Ted Rogers fashion, it was a bold bet – the company bought the land before it obtained the required licences. Over the decades that followed, Mississauga grew up around the property. Rogers borrowed against the land to finance expansion, and eventually sold much of it to home builders at a profit measured in the tens of millions.
The founder’s son has an opportunity to help make an even larger score on a baseball stadium that’s past its prime.
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