What do you do when you head up the digital content team for one of the biggest sports organisations in North America and then you’re told that there’s no sport to report on?

That was the challenge that faced Peter Kelly when Canada went into lockdown earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world.

As Director of Digital Experience at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Partnership (MLSE) – the parent group who own current NBA champions Toronto Raptors, MLS side Toronto FC the CFL franchise Toronto Argonauts – Peter and his team went from non-stop sports coverage to nothing overnight. Like most businesses around the world, they had to think quick on their feet and work it out as they went along.

Speaking to UCFB as part of the Toronto Virtual Summit, Peter said: “Day one of the COVID hiatus, I’m looking around the business and seeing ‘can’t do anything, can’t do anything, can’t do anything, oh… but digital is still on!’ Everyone is looking at us and asking what are we going to do? It was pretty horrifying!”

He added: “So it was like, ok, how do we plug back into the business and help support things that we’ve never done before? Not that weren’t plugged into partnerships or those parts of the business, but when it’s the only channel all of a sudden everybody is looking at digital as an option and we need to figure out quite quickly and strategically how to handle those conversations.”

“We had some missteps, we were testing and learning as fast as we could. I’ve jokingly said to a number of people that in some ways, even without any sport on the go, we’ve never been busier as a team!”

Praising the staff at MLSE, Peter went on to explain that their wide and varied skillset has ensured the business continued to run during the pandemic and onto now where the likes of the NBA and MLS are returning with tournaments in Orlando.

He said: “MLSE is a really powerful organisation and the people that work here are really, really sharp. They come from such a variety of backgrounds and that pastiche and skillset is what makes it a really strong organisation to work with.”