Tiger-Cats unveil new ownership structure, which includes Stelco, under the name Hamilton Sports Group

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats/John E. Sokolowski

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC have announced that a new ownership structure with the creation of Hamilton Sports Group (HSG). The new entity will own and operate both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC as well as a master license agreement with Tim Hortons Field.

The existing ownership group will retain majority ownership and continue to manage the teams. “Caretaker” Bob Young will remain as the chair and largest single shareholder of Hamilton Sports Group.

Young welcomes a group of passionate and experienced community leaders to the expanded ownership group which includes Hamilton-based company Stelco along with senior sports executives Scott Mitchell (current CEO for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC) and Jim Lawson (CEO of Woodbine Entertainment).

“My goal as Caretaker has been to ensure our teams prosper for at least another 153 years. We will do this through a commitment to strong values. Ours include a commitment to serve our community and demonstrating leadership through the pursuit of excellence. Our new Hamilton Sports Group partners perfectly represent the values we aspire to, and they will ensure our continued success,” said Young in a press release.

A leader in the Hamilton region for over a century, Stelco has a long and proud history in supporting and promoting the local business and sports community. Stelco’s chairman and CEO Alan Kestenbaum will represent the company’s ownership position. A long-time football lover, Kestenbaum is also currently a minority owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“Stelco is thrilled to partner with Hamilton Sports Group and the entire Tiger-Cats and Forge FC organizations. They put a tremendous product on the field in both sports, and represent Hamilton proudly, much like Stelco,” said Kestenbaum.

“This is an overdue union of two Hamilton icons, with Stelco’s 110+ year history in Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats’ own history in the city dating back over 150 years. We are excited by the growth prospects of both teams and their respective leagues as new media opportunities continue to be embraced and live sports content remains the preeminent source of entertainment globally.”

Scott Mitchell becomes managing partner and CEO of Hamilton Sports Group and lead league governor for both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC. Mitchell has been with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats since 2008 when he was appointed [resident and has served as the CEO of Bob Young Group of Canadian Companies since 2015. Mitchell, along with Bob Young, is also a co-founder of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) and its commercial partner, Canada Soccer Business (CSB).

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be a Hamilton sports fan. This new structure ensures our leadership and vision remains in place while adhering to Bob Young’s ‘Caretaker’ ethos as stewards of the community and its professional sports teams,” said Mitchell.

“We are incredibly excited about bringing on Stelco under the leadership of Alan Kestenbaum and his executive team and know they share our enthusiasm for our community and for bringing great events and experiences to Tim Hortons Field.”

Longtime sports executive and Hamilton native Jim Lawson brings extensive experience to the new ownership group. Lawson has been the CEO of Woodbine Entertainment since 2015 and is a former chair of the CFL board of governors, twice serving as interim commissioner.

“I have a long family history with the city of Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats that spans three generations. The passion of the fans and community support is unmatched. I am absolutely thrilled to join Bob and the new ownership group and look forward to helping make our team perennial winners,” said Lawson.

Hamilton Sports Group teams have both experienced recent successes. The Tiger-Cats hosted and played in the CFL’s 108th Grey Cup last month in what was the team’s second consecutive appearance. Forge FC are one of the inaugural teams in the CPL, winning back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020 and will compete in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.

Tim Hortons Field will host an upcoming FIFA World Cup qualification match between Canada and the United States. Other notable events scheduled at Tim Hortons Field include the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s 2022 Heritage Classic in March, and the 110th Grey Cup which will be hosted by the Tiger-Cats in 2023.