Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mark Cohon and MLSE

Yesterday, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon announced that he would be stepping away from the league he helped stabilize when his contract expires in April of 2015.

Today, amid recent speculation, Tim Leiweke announced that he would only remain as the President & CEO of MLSE until June 30th, 2015, or until a replacement is found.

I imagine the timing of the two announcements is nothing more than sheer coincidence, but there is a fit between the two that is undeniable.

Before Leiweke was even announced in his role with MLSE in the early summer of 2013, there had been rumors linking Cohon to the post at MLSE.  Nothing came of those rumors of course, but that lays the foundation for the possibility of the two hooking up in the future.  It doesn't hurt either that Cohon has been rumored to have some involvement with MLSE regarding the potential purchase of the CFL's Argonauts, as well as the possibility of the Argos moving into BMO Field with their MLS counterparts.

Cohon would certainly be qualified for the job.  Since taking the reigns of the CFL in 2007, the league's success and stability has sky-rocketed.  Among his accolades are bringing a franchise back to Ottawa, improving the league's promotion and revenue by moving the CFL's coverage from CBC to TSN, negotiating a new CBA without disrupting the league's calendar, bringing the league to social media, and working out new stadium deals for B.C., Ottawa, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Saskatchewan.  Journalists and fans alike have agreed that in a day and age where league commissioners are often seen as villainous, Cohon stands out as a saving grace.

And while he's adored by those who follow the league, he's also favored by those who are a part of it.  The league's new CBA serves as an example, where not only was Cohon able to avoid disruption to the league's calendar in negotiations, but he also kept the money in the owners hands.  Cohon is as much a businessman as he is a voice of and for the fans.  He's happy to make his presence felt, but he doesn't overstep his boundaries with a loud voice akin to that of Leiweke's which seems to have not only rubbed fans the wrong way but ownership as well

He's aggressive and forward-thinking, his ability and demeanor are equally appreciated by observers and boardroom executives, and he's looking for a new challenge.  He understands the Canadian sports market and the pressures that come with it.  The timing of him leaving the CFL and a spot opening up at MLSE is near-perfect.  When its all said and done it may not happen, but Mark Cohon could be the perfect marriage for MLSE.

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