Montreal businessman Clifford Starke has officially stated his intention to acquire the Alouettes.
The chairman of Hampstead Private Captital issued a press release on Thursday:
“In a period of uncertainty in respects to the future of the Alouettes, I would formally like to announce my intention to pursue the necessary steps in order to purchase the team, whatever those steps may be, while respecting the process of the Canadian Football League. It is my desire and goal to bring the Grey Cup back to where it belongs – Montreal.”
Growing up in Montreal, I was privileged to have had a first-hand experience of the modern era glory days of the Alouettes. I was childhood friends with Brad Smith, the son of former President of the Alouettes, Larry Smith. I sat and watched throughout my formative years the power of the Alouettes organization, not only within the stadium, but also throughout the community and Quebec as a whole. I sat beside the Alouettes Icon Larry Smith and had aspirations of being Michael Soles and Ben Cahoon. I stood for hours to watch the 2002 Grey Cup parade with over a million other Québécois filled with Alouette pride.”
“As a fan, I want nothing but the best for the team and the greatest fan base in the CFL. In business, my partners and I have been successful in various ventures and we possess the track record, as well as expertise to stabilize the franchise, commence rebuilding a championship caliber organization and restore the legacy of the Alouettes.”
Former CFL receiver Brad Smith is serving as a consultant for Starke’s ownership group. Smith is the son of Larry Smith who was picked first overall in the 1972 CFL draft by the Alouettes and played nine seasons in Montreal.
Smith became the eighth commissioner of the CFL in 1992 and resigned in 1997. He became the Alouettes president in 2001 and had a second stint from 2004-2010.
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 while overseeing the team’s run of dominance from 1999 to 2012 when the Als finished first in the East Division nine times in 14 seasons, winning three Grey Cups. Wetenhall was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
The team has fallen on hard times in recent years, missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, the longest streak in franchise history. The Alouettes have struggled at the gate as well as fans have tired of the perpetual on-field ineptitude.