The owner of the Vancouver Canucks is not in the market to purchase the B.C. Lions, yet, following longtime team owner David Braley passing away.
Francesco Aquilini has been inundated with questions since the CFL giant died on Monday. Canadian Business Magazine listed the Aquilini family as the 27th richest family in Canada for 2018, with a net worth of $3.3 billion. There have been reports regarding the Aquilini’s interest in purchasing the football franchise in the past, however, the acquisition isn’t currently on the agenda.
“Thanks for the many suggestions we’ve had about buying the BC Lions, but it’s not something we’re considering at the moment,” Aquilini wrote on Twitter.
Braley purchased the financially-strapped Leos prior to the 1997 season. During his induction speech at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012, he spoke of how proud he was going from 8,000 fans in the stands at his first game as owner to averaging 35,000 at the highest point of his tenure.
His first Grey Cup win as a CFL owner was a historic one. In 2000, the Lions became the first team in pro football to win a championship despite finishing below .500 in the regular season. It was completed with a 28-26 win over the Montreal Alouettes in the 94th Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium.
Three years later, Braley and the late Bobby Ackles successfully lured Wally Buono away from the Calgary Stampeders to serve as head coach and general manager.
The Lions finished first in the West Division every year from 2004 to 2007, posting a regular season record of 52-19-1. In 2006, the franchise won its fifth Grey Cup and second under Braley’s ownership by defeating Montreal 25-14 at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg.
The team won a third championship in 2011 when the Lions went from an 0-5 start to Grey Cup champions, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the newly renovated BC Place.
According to former 3DownNation contributor, Lowell Ullrich, Braley was not asked about published reports that the Aquilini family, owner of the Canucks, inquired about a purchase, repeating that he has had numerous conversations with interested parties in March 2017.
The Aquilini’s bought a 50 percent stake in the Canucks in November 2004 and added the other 50 in November 2006, including Rogers Arena. Aquilini is the managing director of the Vancouver-based Aquilini Investment Group and chairman of Canadian digital media company Enthusiast Gaming. He’s also a chairman and National Hockey League governor.
Braley left the Lions well-funded, but there will need to be a new owner found in the not too distant future.