With reports swirling around the future ownership of the club, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says he has been trying to find a way to improve the Alouettes’ fortunes in Montreal.
“For many, many months now we’ve been working with the Wetehall family on a strategy to how do we make this team bigger and stronger? How do we return it to its glory?” Ambrosie said on TSN 690 radio in Montreal.
“During Bob Wetenhall’s era, this team went to eight Grey Cups, won three Grey Cups. Bob himself is in the CFL Hall of Fame as a builder. We’re just thinking about how do we get this team and this franchise back to where everyone wants it to be?
Montreal Gazette reporter Herb Zurkowsky first reported the possibility of an ownership change. But Ambrosie wouldn’t directly comment on the status of the franchise.
“The broad answer is we want to grow the entire league and the strategy we’ve been talking about – what we’re calling CFL 2.0 – is really reset. It’s about growing our revenues, it’s not just the Montreal Alouettes thing, it’s an all-of-our-markets thing. It’s rallying our teams around a new way of thinking about our league,” Ambrosie said.
“We’ve been stuck in a bit of a humble mode. I can tell you from whether it’s in Montreal or Toronto or all across the rest of the league, the conversation today is different then it used to be. I don’t think we’re satisfied with status quo anywhere. We’ve not had the kind of success on the field or off the field that you want to have and that can’t continue, something has to change and the conversation is about changing it for the better.”
Robert Wetenhall has owned the team since 1997 when he brought the team back from the brink of insolvency. He was responsible for the team’s successful relocation to Percival Molson Stadium and eventually expansion. But the team has fallen on hard times in recent years, missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, the longest streak in franchise history.
“No one likes a team that has a bad season, but it’s way worse when those seasons start to be strung together. We’re looking at solutions to how do we help the teams recover more quickly. For example, our league had going back until I think it was 1984 a territorial program which allowed the teams to select a player from within their local region,” Ambrosie said.
“If you look at how strong and how powerful college football is here in Quebec, if you look at Montreal and Laval just to name two. The CEGEP programs here are fantastic. We’re talking about can we potentially resurrect the territorial program which would give Montreal access to a great college player from within their market and hoping as it had done in the past that’s a recipe for getting more talented guys on the field.”