Ontario-Based Entrepreneurs Strike Deal To Purchase CFL Alouettes
Ontario-based entrepreneurs Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern have been "introduced as the owners" of the CFL Alouettes, according to Herb Zurkowsky of the MONTREAL GAZETTE. Spiegel is the Founder & Chair of Crawford Steel, while Stern is the company's CEO. During yesterday's press conference to make the formal announcement, Stern said that the group "only expressed their interest in purchasing the team three weeks ago." But he also "insisted their commitment is long-term." The CFL assumed control of the "financially struggling franchise" from the Wetenhall family at the end of May. In the ensuing months, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie is "believed to have negotiated with numerous groups." Ambrosie said that the other potential groups "all had to find investors, whereas Spiegel and Stern did not." He added that "between seven and 10 groups were involved" in negotiations for the team. Meanwhile, Stern said that he "hopes to have a new president and general manager in place by this Friday," stressing that the new president "will be bilingual" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/7).
HAVING FUN: Ambroise said the new owners have "made it clear they're going to hire a professional team to run" the organization because "they want to be football fans." He added, "Their model is to be owners and fans and then let really well-rooted people that can live and work in this community run and operate the football team" ("TSN," 1/6). The GAZETTE's Zurkowsky in a front-page piece notes Spiegel is the one with the "deep pockets," while Stern "undoubtedly will become the sole owner" of the franchise in time. Zurkowsky: "Only time will tell whether Ambrosie made the right decision or was backed into a corner by the league's owners and governors, all of whom undoubtedly were growing impatient paying the Als' bills and certainly wouldn't have agreed to the arrangement for another year" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/7). TSN Radio's Joey Alfieri tweeted Spiegel and Stern have a "track record of hard work and success," as well as a "deep passion for Canadian football" (TWITTER.com, 1/6).
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The CP's Sidhartha Banerjee noted the conversation to purchase the Alouettes was first sparked at a "Grey Cup party in late November." At a small gathering hosted by Stern in his basement, Argonauts Governor and CFL BOG Chair Dale Lastman "casually mentioned the Alouettes' ownership situation." At the time, Stern said that both he and Spiegel "weren't aware of it but were very interested, setting talks in motion with the league." Ambrosie had "no idea who the pair were, but was immediately impressed with Stern and Speigel when he showed up at their office." Ambrosie said, "We did a transaction in about three-and-a-half weeks from start to finish." Banerjee noted the "emergence of Spiegel and Stern as Alouettes owners is very surprising" given that the brother duo of Peter and Jeffrey Lenkov were "long said to be front-runners for the franchise." There also were indications that Claridge Inc. "could partner with the Lenkovs as co-owners of the club." There had been "persistent talk," but both Lenkovs were withdrawn from consideration (CP, 1/6).