MICHAEL DOWNEY – President and Chief Executive Officer, Tennis Canada
Michael Downey returned to Tennis Canada as President and Chief Executive Officer in July 2017—a position he held for nearly a decade up to 2013. From 2014 to mid 2017, he served as Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) based in London, England. Mr. Downey possesses extensive executive management experience in the sport, beer and marketing industries.
During his first term at Tennis Canada, Mr. Downey developed a bold plan to diversify and increase revenue to reinvest in tennis development and the Rogers Cup tournaments. He changed the culture of the organization and cultivated partnerships within the tennis and business communities to enhance Tennis Canada’s image on the domestic and international stage.
In 2007, Mr. Downey prompted the Board of Directors of Tennis Canada to invest over $1 million annually in high performance; an initiative that led to Canada’s first ever, National Tennis Centre in Montreal and regional U14 programs in Toronto, and later in Vancouver. Both Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard trained at the Montreal NTC. Under Mr. Downey’s leadership, the organization also launched an ambitious Tennis Matters fund development campaign, which far exceeded its initial $10 million donation goal.
In 2013, Mr. Downey was recruited to oversee British Tennis, the first expatriate to lead the 130 year old LTA. He led the development of a new strategic plan focussed on reversing a decade long decline in grassroots participation. With a strong focus on parks tennis and attracting young families to clubs, British Tennis achieved nearly 2 million monthly recreational players. Participation turnaround was aided by the successful Great British Tennis Weekend, Tennis for Kids, and a ‘Go hit it’ advertising campaign. Under Downey’s leadership, the British pro grass court circuit leading up to Wimbledon was revamped, re-combining Eastbourne, creating a new combined event in Nottingham and expanding the centre court at Queen’s. When he departed London for Canada, the LTA had just launched “Transforming British Tennis Together” a game-changing program to double the number of kids playing tennis through expanding the number of covered courts, flood lit courts and court access systems throughout Britain.
As President of the Ontario-Western Canada region at Molson Breweries – Canada’s largest brewery – Mr. Downey worked to generate record profits and contributed to award-winning marketing campaigns, including the internationally renowned I Am Canadian television campaign.
Known and recognized in the Toronto sports market, Mr. Downey has held senior executive positions with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre, and served as President of Skydome and Molson Sports & Entertainment.
Michael resides in Toronto with his wife Jinder. They have three children, Schara, Mackenzie and Sam.