Run with it, Calgary

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Huddle up, Calgary. It's time to take an even greater role with the Stampeders. Rarely are fans as active as the local faithful were in the sale of the CFL club to Calgary interests, now just a couple of weeks from being finalized.

Typically, fans are allowed to shout and cheer all they want at the stadium but their voices mean nothing once the final gun sounds. That stark reality makes them little more than silent partners in ownership even though they indirectly pay all the bills.

The scenario couldn't be further from the truth in light of fan involvement in the impending sale, while Stamps lovers will only become more crucial to the club's viability in the future.

After the purchase is finalized and the new ownership group is able to get its house in order, fans will eventually be allowed to invest directly into the franchise in some type of public offering or by purchasing shares that are coupled with season-ticket campaigns.

Not only will this type of plan make the Stamps truly community owned, entrenching the club as a civic asset, it will allow the new purchase group to recoup its investment, turning the club over to all Calgarians.

An experienced, football-savvy board of directors would take charge to make sure the team never again falls into ruin, while shareholders would have a voice in the team's decisions and selection of board members.

It's a process that started when your voices were heard leading up to the sale, not only by owner Michael Feterik -- metaphorically handed an apple and a road map by Calgary's football fans -- but also by a group of well-off businesspeople eager to make it happen.

The group, which includes John Forzani and Ted Hellard, is in the final stages of bringing the club back into community hands. All that remains in completing the sale is due diligence -- the new ownership group's opportunity to examine the Stamps' books to ensure there are no financial skeletons in the closet.

The most successful example of a public ownership is the NFL's Green Bay Packers, while in the CFL Edmonton, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg have employed plans encompassing various community ownership schemes.

Although the Roughriders and Bombers have sometimes struggled to survive, a city the size of Calgary with its financial stability should ensure a resounding success if fans back the plan.

The Eskimos have been so successful at the gate and on the field, the perennial playoff contender yesterday announced a $400,000 donation to minor football in the Edmonton area.

A similar community ownership plan in Calgary will allow fans to fortify their vitriol, investing in a small portion of the club and receiving a real voice in the team's future.

It's a plan destined to succeed, providing Stampeders fans follow up their disgust with Feterik's ownership by investing in the club.

As long-time season ticket holders, Forzani and Hellard have heard the derisive whoops from the frustrated fans that began shortly after Feterik took over the club in 2002, building to a crescendo over the past six months.

Because of massive unrest among Red and White fans, the local group turned up the heat on Feterik to sell the team while the CFL braintrust, growing tired of the California businessman's abrasive yet short history in Calgary, was only too willing to help facilitate a deal.

To show its appreciation, don't be surprised if CFL powers deliver a Grey Cup game to the new ownership group, a guaranteed financial windfall, with the earliest available game arriving in 2007.

As for the fans, community ownership should be a resounding success in Calgary, provided fans continue to support the club as they have over the past decade.

So Calgary fans have gotten their wish, now they have to make it work.


Videos

Photos