Edmonton Elks announce Victor Cui as new president and CEO

Click to play video: 'New Edmonton Elks president Victor Cui talks plans for team'
New Edmonton Elks president Victor Cui talks plans for team
WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Elks has named Victor Cui as its new president and CEO. Cui, who was born in Edmonton, joins Global News Morning Edmonton to chat about his plans for the team. – Jan 25, 2022

Just over two months after the Edmonton Elks fired their head coach and top bosses, the team has named Edmonton-born Victor Cui as the new president and CEO.

A source inside the Elks confirmed the news to 630 CHED on Monday. The move was officially announced by the Elks on Tuesday morning.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Elks announce Victor Cui as new president and CEO'
Edmonton Elks announce Victor Cui as new president and CEO

“We’re thrilled Victor has agreed to bring his broad local and international sports leadership experience and bountiful energy to lead this community’s football club,” said Ian Murray, chair of the Elks’ board of directors.

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“We are confident Victor’s tenacity, creativity and proven ability to inspire people to quickly deliver big results will play a major role in our promise to re-energize the organization and our fans.”

An Edmonton native and a graduate of the University of Alberta, Cui is currently the CEO of International ONE Championship, a mixed martial arts program based in Singapore. He founded and is the CEO of ONE Elite Agency as well.

Over the last 25 years, he was also involved with the Commonwealth Games, Golf Canada and ESPN Star Sports.

Cui calls the move home an intersection of luck and fate.

“I get to come home and take all of this knowledge, all of this experience of a lifetime, and bring it back to a team that I love and care about and that was a huge part of my life growing up,” Cui told 630 CHED’s Reid Wilkins on Inside Sports Monday.

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“To me, this looks — in my mind — like the opportunity where everything is magically lined up and I’m so grateful to have the support and confidence from the Edmonton Elks’ board of directors who have done really, a phenomenal job in their efforts to right the ship and get us ready for the new season.”

Victor Cui, CEO and owner of ONE Championship (ONE), on May 12, 2015. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

A family-oriented person, Cui calls his journey a “crazy immigrant story” shared by many Canadians.

Before Cui was born, his parents moved to Canada from the Philippines and landed in Edmonton.

His mother was a nurse and his father was an engineer. They were sent to work in Rimbey, Alta., a town they knew nothing about.

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“This is back when there was no internet. So it’s not like you could Google: ‘Where’s Rimbey? How cold is it?'”

Over the years, Cui said his parents brought their entire family to Edmonton. One of their regular traditions was to get the new family members an Edmonton jersey and take them to a football game.

“We would let them see and experience what it meant to be in a screaming stadium of people that love the city,” Cui recalled. “That is such a magical part of when sport becomes part of the cultural fabric.”

One of Cui’s first tasks will be to soothe a fan base that has been very vocal over the last several months about a disconnect between them and the team, a rift that grew with the team’s 3-11 record in the 2021 CFL season.

He knows there’s a big job ahead, but it’s one he’s passionate about.

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“The thing that is magical about sports, is that when you go to the stadium and you put on this jersey, there’s this magical experience that happens where it doesn’t matter what your race, culture, religion, background, age, your title, whether you’re rich or you’re poor — you put on the Edmonton Elks jersey and you become part of the Elks family,” he said.

“You stand there in a crowd of 30,000 people next to a stranger that you don’t know but in unison you cheer with this illogical belief that if you cheer and yell your heart out, it will somehow impact the field of play and your passion will go onto the field and powerfully motivate and move the players. That is just the magic of sports.”

The hunt for the new president and CEO began in November after Chris Presson — along with head coach Jaime Elizondo and general manager and vice president of football operations Brock Sunderland — was fired by the team.

The board of directors cited the team’s poor performance on the field as well as negative customer service feedback as the reason for the decision.

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“It would be inappropriate to pick one thing or even pick one or two things (that went wrong),” Murray said at the time. “It was really an accumulation of things.”

Chris Jones was announced as the new head coach and general manager on Dec. 21.

Cui said he’s already been in contact with Jones and is looking forward to working with him.

“He is so well respected. He is really, really good at what he does and I think we are a very good complement. I think the board did a fantastic job in that selection.”

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