Bernie eyes capital gain

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Bernie Glieberman wishes he had never given up ownership of the Rough Riders in the first place.

So a chance to buy into the Renegades absolutely would appeal to him, the Michigan millionaire said in confirming a story in yesterday's Sun.

"Yes, we're interested," Glieberman told the Sun early last night from his office at Crosswinds Communities, the thriving Detroit-based real estate development company that's been his for three decades. "I really like Ottawa. I really like Canadian football. If there's an opportunity to get involved in the league again, I'd love to get involved."

First, though, the Renegades' current ownership group has to sort itself out. It's believed majority shareholder Bill Smith is negotiating with partner Randy Gillies, who owns an equal 30% of the club, in an attempt to buy him out. Should he succeed, Glieberman could fill the void.

Glieberman and Smith have had several discussions since they first met up to talk about the team in Florida.

"I like Bill, I think he would make a great partner," said Glieberman, who owned the Riders from 1991-1994 before moving on to start up the Shreveport ( La.) Pirates as part of what ultimately turned out to be a failed expansion bid into the U.S. by the CFL.

"He's a very down to earth guy. (Brad) Watters, too. I think Brad, Bill and us (Bernie and his son Lonie) could work well together."

While it's unclear as to what percentage could be available to him, Glieberman said he could settle for a minority share as long as it meant having equal votes as his partners.

Any ownership sale involving more than 10% of the team would need league approval, but it's doubtful that would be a stumbling block.

"I think we can help," said Glieberman. "I think we can bring a lot of fun to the fans. We have a lot of experience at it. I think we've learned a lot, and I think we could make it an exciting game and come up with a winning team."

Meanwhile, any business that is going on behind closed Renegades doors will stay there until after the Grey Cup, as the team does not want to distract from this massive, multimillion dollar event that it is hosting.

TEAM REMAINS MUM

"We have no comment on it," Brad Watters said of the team's ownership situation and the Gliebermans' potential involvement. "We're focusing on the Grey Cup, and we will deal with those issues as we go forward."

While Smith will not attend this week's festivities because of personal matters, Gillies is in town and soaking up the atmosphere.

One source who referred to Gillies as a "good owner" also believes the team of Smith and Glieberman would ensure the franchise is alive, healthy and here for a very long time.

However, reaction to news that the Gliebermans could be returning to town was predictable, as a number of fans called radio talk shows to voice their displeasure.

In many cases, they were unable to pinpoint exactly why they disliked the idea, other than that the Gliebermans' last ownership stint here left a bad taste in their mouth.

Glieberman, meanwhile, doesn't mind that he is remembered as an active owner.

"Sometimes we would do things that were controversial, but that's better than not doing anything at all," he said. "Some people would agree with us, and some did not. But I think a lot of times those who didn't would come to the stadium just to see us fall on our nose."

GOOD MEMORIES

B.C. Lions fullback Darren Joseph says the Gliebermans are not bad owners. Not only did he play for them here, but Lonie once offered him a seven-year contract extension that, after some consideration, Joseph politely declined.

"I never had a problem with them as people ... I thought they were very nice people," said Joseph, who, like many, first thinks of Lonie's insistence that Dexter Manley get a chance (when the team was 1-7) when they remember the Glieberman-era in Ottawa. "I don't agree with owners getting involved with decisions on the field. Not the financial stuff, but who plays and who doesn't. That's the only time I disagreed with them. Otherwise, I had never been treated so well in my life."


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