Former Toronto Argonauts CEO Joins Woodbine Entertainment’s Executive Team

Written By Robyn McNeil on May 10, 2021 - Last Updated on September 20, 2022

Woodbine Entertainment announced it appointed former sports executive Michael Copeland as Chief Commercial Officer. The appointment comes as Woodbine explores growth opportunities, including Canada’s burgeoning sports betting sector.

Before taking on his role with Woodbine, Copeland worked extensively in the Canadian Sports Industry. Most recently, he worked as a consultant with a focus on transformation and growth in sports entertainment. Prior, Copeland was President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts between 2015-2018.

He was also President and Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Football League from 2006-2015.

Copeland, who received a law degree and MBA from Western Univerity, steps into his new role on May 10.

Woodbine Eyes Growth Opportunities in Canada Sports Betting

“With a unique opportunity for substantial growth of our business on the horizon, we are excited to add Michael and his wealth of experience to our senior leadership team,” said Jim Lawson, Woodbine’s CEO. “In addition to his extensive background in sports and business, Michael is a strong, visionary leader. Making him an ideal teammate to lead our commercial efforts as we look to realize those opportunities for growth in a rapidly changing sports marketplace in Canada.”

As CCO, Copeland will oversee business development, digital strategy, marketing, sponsorships, broadcast, and customer experience strategy. Copeland will also play a pivotal role as Woodbine moves to participate in Canada’s emerging sports betting industry.

Copeland ‘Honoured’ to Join Woodbine, Sees Bright Future Ahead

“Woodbine Entertainment is already one of Canada’s top sports and entertainment organizations with horse racing and the 50,000 jobs it supports at the centre of it all,” said Copeland. “Yet, the opportunity for it to embrace a bold vision for the future and reimagine its position as a Canadian sports and entertainment leader has never been stronger than it is now.”

“Through the years, I have developed a deep appreciation for the horse racing industry, and the people within it as my wife’s family was involved in the sport for decades. I am honoured to join an organization that has such a rich history and an even brighter future.”

Copeland’s addition to the Woodbine leadership team follows prominent land developer William Fleissig’s appointment to head of property development. Fleissig is Managing Principal of Collaborative Equities, an industry leader in low carbon communities. And the company directing the master development of Woodbine’s 680-acre site that houses Canada’s largest racetrack.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us that has the potential to modernize our business model, strengthen our brand, expand our reach, and create new revenue streams that will support the horse racing industry for decades to come,” said Lawson.

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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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