Glad to be Stamp saviour

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

By walking around the concourse level of McMahon Stadium during home games, John Forzani is always reminded of his role with the Calgary Stampeders.

Instead of being recognized as just part of the ownership group that took over the club in January 2005, the former Stampeders offensive lineman is told over and over he is one of the saviours.

Then again, because the founder and chairman of The Forzani Group is at every game and hears plenty of reaction from fans, sometimes he gets jeered.

"I've had a lot of comments -- some of them negative from 'Rider fans -- that we stole Henry Burris," said Forzani.

"But, most of them, if I can encapsulate them all into one statement: 'Thanks for doing this for us.' It's been beneficial for Calgary.

"I do know a lot of people in Calgary and there's been an overwhelming sense of support."

On a day-to-day basis, Forzani isn't greatly involved with the club operations. He sits in on meetings and makes the important decisions but his main role is being part of the three-man executive committee with Ted Hellard and Doug Mitchell.

Forzani is also part of the CFL's competition committee, a group that deals with league matters such as instant replay and rules.

Although his work with the Forzani Group takes up most of his week, Forzani relishes the opportunity to attend games -- and not just as a spectator.

"I've been to pretty much all the games and I've been to most of the road games," Forzani said.

"I went to Winnipeg, B.C. and Montreal. To be quite honest, since I played, I never really attended a Calgary game outside of the city. I'm a very keen fan."

As a former player (1971-76) and longtime supporter, it tore Forzani up watching the Stamps miss the playoffs and become a running joke over the past three seasons under the previous ownership.

So a year ago at this time, he talked with Hellard to hatch the plan to put the franchise back in local ownership. The entire situation was nothing Forzani could have imagined when he suited up in Red and White.

"When I played in the '70s, all the teams were community owned. There were no thoughts about private ownership groups of any team," Forzani said.

"The thought never crossed my mind that I would one day be an owner. I'm very happy with the decision we made to buy the team.

"I'm very happy personally. It was a great business decision and it will be a great benefit to the community.

"The Stampeders aren't something a guy can retire on. You make a little bit of money and you reinvest it into the team to ensure the success we do have is duplicated. It was a win, win, win situation."


Photos