Group takes Stamps reins

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

A handful of prominent Calgarians introduced themselves as the new owners of the Stampeders yesterday, finally putting the reins in local hands.

Sarcastically calling it the "absolute best-kept secret in Calgary's history," John Forzani, one of three managing directors, officially announced what had been known for weeks -- a local group has purchased the city's CFL franchise.

A dozen businessmen -- led by Forzani, Ted Hellard and Doug Mitchell -- will steer it.

Although the price wasn't disclosed, it is believed the local group paid close to $6.5 million Cdn to previous owner Michael Feterik.

"The only true value of a business is how much you paid for it or how much it's sold for," said Forzani.

"If you look at historic evaluations, based on profitability, maybe based on revenue, and then we look at the price of the Stampeders, we paid a lot more than we should have.

"But on the other side of the coin, good for Mike. There had been a lot of criticism of Mike but he did pay the bills and he did leave the team intact."

Forzani is a former Stampeders player and chairman of The Forzani Group Ltd., Canada's largest sporting goods retailer.

Hellard is founder and chairman of Critical Mass, a Calgary-based interactive marketing agency.

Mitchell is a Calgary lawyer and managing partner in law firm Borden, Ladner, Gervais and served as CFL commissioner for six seasons (1984-89).

Feterik, a California businessman, owned the team for three tumultuous and unsuccessful years.

Changes to the front-office and coaching staffs are expected soon although no moves were announced yesterday.

President Ron Rooke and GM/head coach Matt Dunigan are under contract for two more years but will not return.

It has been rumoured former Edmonton Eskimos head coach Tom Higgins will assume a pivotal role in the football operations.

The new ownership group includes Matt Brister (president and CEO Storm Exploration), Robert Peters, (founder of Peters and Co., and president and CEO of Black Diamond Land and Cattle Co.), Bob Viccars (president Matrix Crude Oil Marketing and former Stampeders player) and David Sapunjis (managing partner of Continental Oilfield Supply Canada and former Stampeders receiver). Five other investors wish to remain anonymous.

Flames president Ken King said that although the NHL team's ownership group at one time had an interest in becoming involved with the Stampeders, no Flames owners has invested in the CFL franchise.


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