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Updated: Thu, 03 Oct 2013 12:01:42 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

Ontario gives MLSE $500K for NBA All Star game



Toronto Raptors GM Masai Uriji (© left to right)

Toronto Raptors GM Masai Uriji (left to right), Raptors global ambassador Drake and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President and CEO Tim Leiweke pose with jerseys after the announcement that thr Raptors will host the 2016 NBA All Star game at a news conference in Toronto on Monday September 30, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Getting Drake on board as an ambassador for the Toronto Raptors might not have been the only reason officials with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment were smiling this week.

It turns out the Ontario government gave $500,000 to the company that owns the Raptors, as well as the NHL's Maple Leafs, the Toronto FC and the Air Canada Centre, to help host the 2016 NBA all star game.

The provincial government never issued a news release to announce the half-million-dollar cheque for MLSE from its "Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster" program.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was recently valued at $2.25 billion, and "doesn't exactly need corporate welfare."

CTF Ontario director Candice Malcolm says the Liberal government has "no shame when it comes to wasting taxpayers' money."

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced Monday that it had hired homegrown rap star Drake as a new "global ambassador," and predicted the NBA all star game would generate around $100 million for Toronto.

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