'The CFL is a great league'

Lonie Glieberman and his father Bernie may get involved with the Renegades and return to Ottawa....

Lonie Glieberman and his father Bernie may get involved with the Renegades and return to Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun File Photo)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

The Renegades' unsettled ownership situation could soon take a surprising yet familiar twist.

The Sun has learned that former Rough Riders owner Bernie Glieberman has had "several" discussions with majority shareholder Bill Smith about buying into the team, and indications are talks will continue this week.

"From what we've seen, (Glieberman) is very serious about this," said a source, who added that the Detroit multimillionaire seems to be open to whatever percentage of the Renegades is available.

BRINGING GREGG

Glieberman and his son Lonie, the former Rough Riders president, will be in town for the Grey Cup.

Accompanying them will be Forrest Gregg, the Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time NFL coach of the year who was also coach of the Glieberman-owned Shreveport Pirates when they and four other U.S.-based teams folded at the end of the 1995 CFL season.

Gregg is still working for the Gliebermans, as he and Lonie have presided over the building and development of Mount Bohemia, a successful ski resort in northern Michigan.

For more than 30 years, Bernie Glieberman has been president and sole shareholder of Crosswinds Communities, which is now regarded as one of the top real estate development companies in the U.S.

He purchased the Rough Riders from the CFL when they were ownerless late in the 1991 season, and the team posted its first .500 record (9-9) since 1979 the following year. Glieberman left Ottawa for Shreveport after the Riders struggled to a 4-14 finish in 1993.

Contacted last night at Mount Bohemia, Lonie Glieberman would neither confirm nor deny that he and his father were talking with the Renegades.

"We're coming up for the Grey Cup and I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends," he said. "The CFL is a great league, I watch it every week.

"If the right opportunity was there, we'd have an interest, just as we would with any business."

The Renegades' current ownership is made of a six-man, five share consortium. Smith and Randy Gillies each own 30% of the team, while Kevin Kimsa and the father-son tandem of Bill and Brad Watters have 15%. Rick Baker owns the other 10%.

The configuration of the group is expected to change, however, as Kimsa has wanted out for over a year. It's also believed that Smith and Gillies are going to split, with speculation that the former could buy out the latter as well as Kimsa.

If Smith does take control, Watters will stay in as his partner. Baker would likely sell his shares, as he is partners with Gillies and Kimsa.

U.S. EXPANSION DIED

The Gliebermans have been out of the CFL since 3-15 and 5-13 seasons building a young team for the future in Shreveport. Little did they know the U.S. expansion experiment would die after two years.

Lonie moved to northern Michigan in 1998, and two years later Mount Bohemia was completed. Today, it's considered the "fastest growing ski resort in the midwest."

The Gliebermans never lost their love of the CFL, however.

According to the source, the Gliebermens held initial discussions with the Renegades in September when they were in town to see a game against the B.C. Lions.


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