Flames buy bigger slice of Stamps
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Randy Chevrier and the Calgary Stampeders get ready to take on the Maritimes this week at Touchdown Atlantic. (Al Charest/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - The Calgary Flames keep growing — and the next question is where will the teams under their umbrella will play in the future.
The Flames are now majority owners of the Calgary Stampeders, the fifth team under the NHL club’s control, along with the WHL’s Hitmen, the NLL’s Roughnecks and the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat.
There is work being done on getting the Flames a new downtown arena, but McMahon Stadium will eventually need to be replaced as well.
With the CFL team on board, the Flames will now look at building a sports complex downtown with both a football stadium and a new arena.
“We are smack in the middle of planning for a new building,” Flames president Ken King said. “We’ve been public about that.
“We haven’t talked about what it will look like or where it will be. It’s one of our highest priorities. Winning a championship is No. 1, and No. 2 is getting that done.
“Only now, and not before now, we will look into determining if it makes any sense to try and combine a stadium and an arena.”
In taking over the Stamps, the Flames will keep the staff in place. The only move they have made is to give GM/head coach John Hufnagel a five-year contract extension.
With training camp about two months away, nothing will change for the Stampeders in the immediate future.
A few months ago, one of the silent Stampeders owners expressed interest in selling his share. That started a process where the Flames determined they should take over controlling interest.
So with Thursday’s announcement comes word that minority partner John Forzani said the rest of the owners have kept their shares with the intentions of moving into the background of Stamps ownership.
Forzani, Doug Mitchell and Ted Hellard headed the previous group and bought the team from Michael Feterik back in 2005. Hellard stepped away a couple of years ago.
Forzani laughed that he’s ‘not a control freak’ and is comfortable becoming a minority partner after seven years at the helm.
“This was the plan all along — having a transition,” Forzani said. “The ownership group is pleased with the progress we’ve made.
“The Flames with their expertise and buying power can help the fan experience here. If you ask yourself one question: What is in the best interest of the Calgary Stampeders? This is the solution.
“We’re happy being minority owners because the wealth of experience the Flames bring to the table.”
This is the second team purchased in less than a year. The Flames bought the Roughnecks last June and transitioned that team into its operations.
This ownership change shouldn’t be as drastic, seeing as how there is a complete staff in place with the Stamps that has run the franchise well for decades.
King promises that the Stampeders will remain a separate entity in the sports group.
“We’re not going to mess with the white horse,” King said. “It’s a powerful brand.
“Sports business are complex, but they are pretty small. As single entities, it’s difficult to make back enough infrastructure to really run them and be competitive.
“This team has done it for decades. It’s tough on the people. You can’t really build an organization, and you can’t attract all the executive talent you would necessarily want. With a larger organization, you can bring more resources to bear and, hopefully, do a better job.
“The people here are a small staff. They have to be commended for what they’ve done.”
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