The Montreal Alouettes’ ownership saga is over.
The CFL announced Monday during a news conference in Montreal that businessmen Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern of Toronto-based Crawford Steel are the franchise’s new owners. The announcement culminated months of speculation regarding the Alouettes’ ownership situation.
The CFL has owned the Alouettes since May when American businessman Bob Wetenhall sold the club to the league.
Sid Spiegel is the founder and chairman of the board of Crawford Steel while Stern is the company’s chief executive officer. Their previous investments in Quebec include steel plants in Longueuil and Rouyn-Noranda and real estate holdings.
Crawford Steel is a privately held company founded by Spiegel in 1944.
S and S Sportsco, a company owned by Spiegel and Stern, is listed as the club’s owner.
“It’s amazing for us to be part of the Alouettes, a storied franchise that has meant so much to the people of Montreal and Quebec, and so much to the game we have followed all our lives,” Spiegel said in a statement.
Added Stern: “Our goal is to make Montreal and Quebec proud.”
They take over an Alouettes franchise that finished second in the East Division standings with a 10-8 record. Montreal, under rookie head coach Khari Jones, reached the CFL playoffs for the first time 2014 before losing 37-29 to Edmonton in the conference semifinal at Molson Stadium.
Montreal’s on-field resurgence came after Jones became interim head coach a week before the start of the regular season when Mike Sherman was abruptly dismissed. Then in July, GM Kavis Reed was dismissed by the club.
Jones signed a three-year contract extension with Montreal shortly after the club’s playoff ouster. However, a priority for the new ownership will be hiring a full-time GM.
“Our first priority is putting in place a new general manager and a new president who can make the right football and business decisions,” said Stern, who’ll serve as Montreal’s lead governor. “We do tremendous business in Quebec and we have great respect for the province.
“We want to build this organization the way we have built our businesses: by putting good people in place and supporting them as they do their jobs, while working with great partners and understanding the market.”
Describing themselves as “CFL fans for life,” Spiegel and Stern are excited to get started.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Spiegel and Stern put forth the best offer for the Alouettes.
“These gentlemen emerged with the best offer in hand and the best interests of the Alouettes and their fans at heart,” he said. “They have a genuine passion for football in Montreal and the resolve and resources to make the team successful over the long term.”
The Alouettes were founded in 1946 and have captured seven Grey Cups, the last coming in 2010. The franchise is the last in the CFL to capture consecutive league titles (2009-10).
“We cherish the history and traditions of Alouette football,” Stern said.
The emergence of Spiegel and Stern as Alouettes owners is very surprising given brothers Jeffrey and Peter Lenkov — Montreal native now living in Los Angeles — were long said to be front-runners for the franchise. There were also indications that Claridge Inc., a private investment firm with headquarters in Montreal, could partner with the Lenkovs as co-owners of the club.
But there’d been persistent talk both Lenkovs had withdrawn from consideration. And then last week, Alouettes president Patrick Boivin left the club, further suggesting the club’s ownership quest had taken a major turn given Boivin’s father, Pierre, is the president/CEO at Claridge.