CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has broken his silence about the Montreal Alouettes’ ownership situation, but didn’t reveal much in the way of details about the process.
Montreal-based entrepreneur Vincenzo Guzzo spilled the real details — from his perspective, at least — about his meetings with the CFL. Ambrosie recently had dinner with Guzzo in Toronto.
“I’m a former offensive lineman so you can see me in a restaurant all the time. There’s really no news in that,” Ambrosie said on TSN 690 radio in Montreal.
“In my estimation, Vince Guzzo is a remarkable man, a truly remarkable man, a great Quebecer, a fantastic Canadian. We’ve had a conversation and I won’t say about what, you guys can fill in the blanks.”
Guzzo described the private meetings publicly, but Ambrosie wouldn’t comment on any of them. Instead the commish defended the timeline for finding a new owner in Montreal.
“I know it can look and feel like it’s an extraordinarily long time, but it’s really not. In my past lives in the corporate world, I can tell you to do a transaction takes many months,” Ambrosie said.
“There’s a lot of sifting through some amazing potential owners, getting to know them, they’re getting to know you. They’re doing their due diligence on us and the team and vice versa. In reality, it’s not an exceptionally long time. I know it feels like a long time, but it really isn’t.”
Ambrosie has considered various groups interested in purchasing the Alouettes franchise. A strong connection to Montreal is one of the criteria. There are various parties who want to own the Alouettes and more than one group involved in the process have never had their names surface. It’s a matter of preference for how each group decides to pursue their bid.
“You have a difficult time deciding which group has the best capacity to take you where you want to go. It’s not a lack of people who are interested in the team, it’s that we’ve had so many that it has made it difficult to decide which group are we going to ultimately select to go forward with,” Ambrosie said.
“The message from our governors all along has been let’s get this right. Fast is nice. But more important that we get the right situation completed because we’re talking about a long-term future.”
The Alouettes have lost millions recently, according to CBC Radio Canada reporter Michel Chabot: $50 million since the Wetenhall family owned the team, including $25 million for three years. In 2018 alone, losses would have reached $12.5 million due to a revenue decline of approximately $6 million and an increase in expenditures of more than $6 million.
That debt could be a sticking point for any potential new ownership group. But Ambrosie “absolutely” believes the Alouettes can be a profitable franchise.
“Especially through the lens of a 2.0 strategy. There are revenue streams that we have never tapped into, there are opportunities that we have never harvested. If we’ve had a problem it’s that we’ve been too small for too long,” Ambrosie said.
“It’s time for us to be big, it’s time for us to puff out our chests and become a big CFL rather than a small one. And I think we’re going to look back on this past year as the year where we totally transformed the CFL from a small national league to a large global league where we have players from around the world and fans from around the world.”