Only a Matter of Time Before NFL Comes to Canada, Tanenbaum Says

The National Football League will definitely come to Canada sooner or later, said Larry Tanenbaum, co-owner of Toronto’s three major professional sports teams.

“They see Canada as an obvious home for an NFL team,” Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said at the Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit in Toronto. Tanenbaum has an ownership stake in the Maple Leafs hockey team, Raptors basketball team and Argonauts Canadian football team.

The 32-team National Football League has considered international expansion to Canada and the U.K. in the past. The Toronto Star reported last year that Tanenbaum was part of a bid to move the Buffalo Bills to Toronto. The nine-team Canadian Football League already has a presence across the country.

“The timing is totally up in the air,” but Toronto is an obvious choice for the NFL, Tanenbaum said.

The value of Toronto as a sports city is too big for the NFL to pass up, said Lyle Wilpon, head of U.S. mergers and acquisitions at BMO Capital Markets, who advised on deals involving two of Canada’s top hockey teams in the past six years.

“It’s a question of when not if,” Wilpon said.

Football might not be the only sport in which the country could see more professional teams in coming years, said Robert Tilliss, founder and managing member of Inner Circle Sports, who advises on sports team sales.

“Overall it’s a pretty healthy market and I can see it adding teams,” Tilliss said.

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