Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) ownership announced today that Keith Pelley, a 39-year sports, entertainment and media industry veteran, and Toronto native, has been named the fifth President & CEO in the company’s 25-year history. Pelley will begin his tenure as President & CEO of MLSE on April 2, 2024.
Pelley joins MLSE from his role as CEO of the European Tour Group, which administers the DP World Tour, Challenge Tour, Legends Tour, G4D Tour and the Ryder Cup in Europe, where he has served since 2015. He joined the European Tour Group after numerous sports, entertainment and media leadership roles in the Toronto area including as President of Rogers Media; President of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium while serving as the Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning with CTV; President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts and President of TSN, the company he first joined as an editorial assistant in 1986.
Current MLSE President & CEO, Cynthia Devine, in keeping with her intentions when appointed to the position in January, 2021, will retire from her role at MLSE once Pelley starts with the company and has agreed to stay on until June, 2024 as an advisor to the Board to assist with the transition.
“Today is a very proud day for MLSE as we are able to welcome home one of our industry’s most accomplished sports, entertainment and media leaders to steer the company moving forward and build on its successes as a global sports and entertainment leader,” said MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “Keith is a dynamic and innovative leader who is firmly committed to building a championship culture at every level in the organization as well as reinforcing MLSE’s pride in its leadership roles in our industry and community. On behalf of the MLSE Board and the entire organization, I would also like to express our gratitude to Cynthia for her many outstanding contributions to MLSE, not only as President & CEO the past two years, but also in her capacity as Chief Financial Officer for more than four years prior to that. Her leadership and strategic direction have been vital to many of the company’s successes over the past seven years, and her impact will continue to be felt in the months and years ahead, including in her advisory role through this transition.”
During his eight and half years with the European Tour group, Pelley has overseen a transformational period of innovation and growth, reflected by the Tour’s brand refresh in 2019, underpinned by the new tagline ‘Driving Golf Further’, and guiding principles of being innovative, inclusive and global. Under Pelley’s leadership, the European Tour group introduced the Rolex Series, DP World’s title partnership of the group’s main Tour, the G4D Tour for Golfers with a Disability, mixed events with the LET and LPGA, and staged the two most successful Ryder Cups to be played on European soil, in Paris in 2018 and Rome in 2023.
He also guided the Tour through the global COVID-19 pandemic, negotiated the full acquisition of European Tour Productions from IMG, and formed Strategic Alliances with the PGA TOUR, the Sunshine Tour and the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, as well as established pathways for other Tours onto the DP World Tour, as part of the ongoing efforts to make global golf more aligned. Since December 2022, he has also been the Chairman of the International Golf Federation.
“I am extremely grateful to MLSE ownership for the chance to return home and lead one of the very best organizations in the world of sports and entertainment, ”said Pelley.“ It has been a huge honour to be the CEO of the European Tour group over the past eight and a half years, and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved during that time. This was the one opportunity I simply could not resist because of what this city and its teams mean to me. I look forward to joining MLSE in April and bringing the values to the organization – culture, teamwork and community – that have been so important to me over the course of my career.”
Pelley was appointed President of Rogers Media in 2010 and was responsible for leading the overall operations of the company’s diverse portfolio. During his tenure, Pelley led the effort to secure the company’s groundbreaking 12-year broadcast and media rights deal with the NHL.
Prior to joining Rogers Media, Pelley was Executive Vice-President of Strategic Planning at CTV globe media and President of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, where he led Rogers’ and CTV’s unprecedented coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, delivering the fifth most-watched event in Canadian television history and earning a record seven Gemini Awards for its coverage.
Pelley began his career in 1984 as an on-air personality at OMNI Television and joined TSN in 1986, where he worked for 16 years in various editorial and production roles for CFL, curling, tennis and baseball coverage. In 1994, Pelley left TSN for FOX, where he worked as a game producer for the NFL, NFL Europe, NHL, and MLB, returning to TSN in 1997 as Senior Vice-President of Programming & Production. Pelley was appointed President of TSN in 2001.
Pelley has devoted much of his time to numerous charitable organizations over the years, including Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, and has received a number of industry awards and recognition, including twice being named Media Player of the Year (2012, 2011); Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award (2011); member of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame (2011); Special Olympics Ontario Sponsors Hall of Fame (2007) and Miles Nadal JCC Sportsman of the Year (2006).
Prior to getting his start with The Sports Network in 1986, Pelley graduated from Ryerson University (now called Toronto Metropolitan University) with a BA in Radio and Television Arts, and also received an ATCL diploma from Trinity College in London.
Vice President, Communications, MLSE