A series of fortunate events

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Nice job, being president of the Edmonton Eskimos for the next two years.

First you show up at the annual meeting where they pass out a beautiful document, the Edmonton Eskimos report to the shareholders, featuring a colourful cover, 21 gorgeous graphs and the really big number which people had been waiting all year to see - $12,911,579.

"Cash and short term investments - End of year: $12,911,579."

You knew the really big number because you were treasurer.

Then they went out and had a vote and were back five minutes later to declare you the new president of the CFL's flagship franchise, replacing out-going president John Butler.

Not a bad gig, huh Bob MacLean?

"It's a very fortunate situation. I've had, on many occasions, chances to visit with former directors and many of those people were not so fortunate when they were signing notes.

"One of the things involved with being president and on the current board of directors is that we have an opportunity to form a plan to put some things back into the community. Rick LeLacheur is working on the plans right now, plans which will be real nice additions to our neighbourhood, and we do consider the area around Commonwealth Stadium as our neighborhood. If we can improve our lot and our situation and create facilities accessible to the community, that's great."

The Eskimos, who previously put $3.5 million from the profits of hosting the Grey Cup into the stabilization fund, put $3.7 million more into the fund to bring it up to around $7.3 million.

The Eskimos put $2 million from the sale of the Edmonton Trappers into city sports facilities, with $500,000 ear-marked for new infield turf for Telus Field and $1.5 million for an artificial surface for Clarke Park. Another $100,000 was provided to the Golden Bear, Huskies and Wildcats football programs plus the same figure to Football Alberta. It's the job of MacLean and the not-so-Nervous Nine to determine some other ways to spend some of that "extra" money.

MacLean comes into a job which was previously held by John Butler when the rotation featured the Eskimo president taking the role of league president.

"Last year there was so much going on with John having to watch the Hamilton and Toronto franchises go through so much. This year the Eskimo president doesn't have the same role. The first thing I was exposed to was dealing with Commissioner Tom Wright. The CFL is an interesting group of individuals and I was happy to see the current commissioner back doing what he was doing. He puts a good face on the CFL and I think the group came to a good decision to have him back."

MacLean had already left his mark on the Eskimos franchise before he became president. It's a much more transparent, visible, open organization.

"As the treasurer, some of the things I'm most proud of have been disclosure, full income statements, balance sheets and full annual reports, which I think have been excellent for the shareholders and fans.

"I think we're in a new day of governance. Hugh Campbell, to his credit, was fine with it. It's the way it has to be now with public corporations."

The board also includes secretary Doug Goss, treasurer Jeff Polovick and directors Brian Butlin, Greg Gardner, Larry Pollock, William Ross, Bruce Saville and Al Sawin.

The Eskimos, who drew 402,306 fans despite brutal weather for their biggest games against Saskatchewan and Calgary, still ended up with a profit of $673,984 last year, up from $164,907 and $180,586 the previous two seasons.

MacLean, like many a predecessor, has come to the conclusion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"The management group is doing a great job. The team is held in high regard at the league level and by our fans.

"Hugh (knows) the deal of CFL management and Rick had done an excellent job getting the fans out and, on the financial side, to give Hugh more time to spend on the football side - that he loves.

"Why mess with that?"


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