Ballard leaves estate to charity


TORONTO -- Late Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard willed most of his $100 million empire to charity, it was revealed Wednesday.

The colorful and controversial Ballard died last week after a three-month illness. He was 86.


Ballard's will was read to his family and associates Wednesday morning at Maple Leaf Gardens. Ballard's son Bill, 42, told reporters afterwards: 'There were no surprises.'

Ballard ran his $100 million empire, which included the Toronto Maple Leafs, Maple Leaf Gardens, the American Hockey League Newmarket Saints and a printing company, via a holding company, Harold E. Ballard Ltd.

Ballard willed control of HEBL, which owns 80 percent of the shares of Maple Leaf Gardens, to a three-man trust composed of Ballard associates Donald P. Giffin, Steve Stavro and Donald Crump.

Ballard owned 99.98 percent of the voting shares of HEBL, according to a statement released by Ballard's lawyer Rosanne Rocchi.


The trustees are to 'retain and vote' the shares for a period not exceeding 21 years and turn over any money from the sale of shares to the Harold E. Ballard Foundation, a charitable foundation Ballard had established.

The foundation is directed to establish the Maple Leaf Gardens Scholarship Fund for the benefit of employees and former employees, their children and grandchildren.

Income generated by the trust is to go to 'certain beneficiaries' such as 'charitable, humanitarian and non-profit organizations and purposes.'

The statement said any 'residue' of Ballard's estate sould also go to the foundation.

Giffin, a long-time friend of Ballard, is a director of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. and was named chief executive officer of the company in January when a court declared the ill Ballard mentally incompetent to run the company.

Stavro and Crump are both directors of the company. Stavro heads a chain of supermarkets while Crump was recently hired to head the professional Canadian Football League.

The statement said the three 'do not currently anticipate any changes in the corporate structures or business affairs of either HEBL or Maple Leaf Gardens in the near future.'

National Hockey League president John Ziegler said he is pleased with Ballard's will.


'Most of us who have known Harold were confident that he was going to do his best to make sure that there would be no disruption or revolution if you will with respect to the Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens,' Ziegler said.

Ballard's longtime companion Yolanda Ballard, 57, who legally changed her name in 1988, is to receive $50,000 a year until her death or marriage, while his three children are to receive only his personal effects.

Yolanda's lawyer Patrick Schmidt said the amount provided for his client doesn't come anywhere near for providing the lifestyle she enjoyed with Mr. Ballard, which included a chauffeured limousine and several hundred dollars a day pocket money.

Schmidt said he would like to negotiate a better deal for Yolanda but wouldn't rule out the possibility of a lawsuit against Ballard's estate.

While alive, Ballard gave each child an equal share of non-voting stock in HEBL. He earlier repurchased daughter Mary-Elizabeth's share for a reported $15 million and son Harold Jr.'s share for a reported $21 million.

Bill, 42, then launched a lawsuit against Harold Sr. and Jr., claiming he had right of first refusal on the shares.


It's believed Bill, who held the position of Gardens vice-president in the early 1970s until a dispute with his father, may try to gain control of his father's hockey empire.

Bill Ballard, a successful concert promoter who co-founded Concert Productions International, is already involved in cooperative ventures with Canadian brewing giant Labatt's, which owns a large share of the Toronto Blue Jays.

It is believed that both Labatt's and its competitor, Molson's, want to own Ballard's empire both as a profitable operation and as a means of marketing their products.

Molson's already holds an option to purchase a block of Gardens stock as a result of money the elder Ballard borrowed from the company some years ago.

NHL rules would prohibit Molson's from involvement with the Leafs because the company already owns the Montreal Canadiens, but it's believed the brewing giant would either sell that team or assign control of the Leafs to a subsidiary or partner company.

Ballard directed the executors of his estate to give the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto any memorabilia they see fit.

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