Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) announced Tuesday that Richard Peddie will retire as President and Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment on December 31, 2011. Peddie will also retire from his position on MLSE’s Board at that time. An executive search committee has been formed by MLSE’s Board of Directors to identify Peddie’s successor with the support of Korn/Ferry International. The search committee will consider both internal and external candidates.

“Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is what it is today due in large measure to the great team that Richard Peddie has built,” said MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “His leadership has demonstrated how a company like ours can be a leader in the community. When Richard retires, he will leave a wonderful legacy that is Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.”

“Richard took the helm of a two-team and one venue organization in 1998 with a clear vision of transforming it into a world-class enterprise. His determination guided the company in its evolution into today’s powerhouse with four teams, in three venues, on three networks across three professional sports leagues,” said Neil Petroff, Executive Vice-President and CIO for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. “We all can thank Richard for his leadership in creating an exceptional sporting landscape that all of Toronto now enjoys.”

Peddie was named MLSE’s inaugural President and CEO in February 1998 after the purchase of the Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre by Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.

Under his leadership, MLSE has expanded its growth and reach to become one of the premier sports and entertainment companies in the world. Peddie’s vision led to the growth of MLSE from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre to include three digital networks — Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and GOLTV Canada —  two more sports teams — Toronto FC and the Toronto Marlies — and a Toronto destination in Maple Leaf Square. He also led MLSE’s private sector investment and involvement to build BMO Field, which was Canada’s first soccer specific stadium and the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, Toronto’s first community four-pad arena built in 27 years.

In Toronto, Peddie has led MLSE to become a city builder and community leader by making a meaningful contribution that supports creating new urban destinations that have assisted tourism, economic growth and developing vibrant and viable neighbourhoods. Since MLSE’s inception, the organization has invested close to $1 billion in the City of Toronto in building new venues and community facilities, in addition to charitable contributions.

“I’m very proud to have led a company that is arguably one of the finest sports and entertainment companies in the world,” said Peddie. “This is the right decision for me and I felt it was time. The last 13 years at MLSE have been terrific and a lot of fun.”

Peddie added “Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is well-positioned for future success because of the more than 600 dedicated sports and entertainment professionals who work at our organization. I remain committed to leading the organization till the end of 2011, ensuring plans are in place for future initiatives and to support a seamless transition for my successor.”