Montreal Alouettes’ owner Gary Stern leaves team operations, resigns from CFL board of governors

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Montreal Alouettes’ owner Gary Stern wrote an open letter revealing he has stepped away from the operations of his team and resigned from the CFL board of governors.

Stern purchased the Als in January of 2020 with his father-in-law and business partner Sid Spiegel via the corporate entity S and S Sportsco. Spiegel passed away in July 2021, two weeks before the club was scheduled to open the 2021 season and without ever having seen the team he owned play a game.

In his letter, Stern described his decision to step away from the team as “reluctant” but “firm.” He explained that the plans he and his father-in-law had for the team were “effectively shelved” following his death and that decisions related to team financing and operations rest with his estate.

Spiegel owned a 75 percent stake in the Alouettes, while Stern owned the remaining 25 percent. Stern indicated via his letter that his 25 percent ownership of the team will remain.

“I have been in touch with representatives of the majority shareholder of the Alouettes. I’m happy to report that they assured me that ‘business as usual’ continues for the club,” tweeted CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie on Monday afternoon.

Stern wasted no time making headlines when he declared that the “Argos suck” at his introductory press conference. He continued to generate conversation through a popular Twitter account that has since been deactivated, guaranteeing victories in a number of games and once suggesting that his team would “kill” Toronto.

Bob and Andrew Wetenhall brought the Alouettes back from insolvency in 1997 and owned the team for 22 years, winning three Grey Cup championships, finishing atop the East Division ten times, and posting a record of 223-172-1. Eleven members of the organization were inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame during their tenure, including Bob as a builder in 2015.

The league purchased the team from the Wetenhalls in May 2019 and spent months trying to secure a new owner for the organization. MLSE lawyer and director Dale Lastman, a longtime personal friend of Stern, played a significant role in Stern’s recruitment to the CFL as an owner for the Alouettes.

The following is the full open letter written by Alouettes’ owner Gary Stern on Monday.

Dear Alouette Fans and the Montreal community,

I write to you today to let you know that I have reluctantly, but firmly, decided to step away from my role on the CFL Board of Governors and my active day-to-day role as Operational Partner with the Montreal Alouettes. My one-quarter ownership stake in the team will remain.

This was a very tough decision for me and my family, but it is a final decision.

I love this team. I love Montreal and our fans.

As a life-long sports fan, my role with the Alouettes was a dream come true. I loved every minute of it.

I cannot thank our players, our staff, our fans and the Montreal community enough for everything you have done to help make my dream a reality.

Today, I am forced to share with you my current reality; I can no longer be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Montreal Alouettes.

My wife Julie and I still mourn the loss, just over a year ago, of her father Sid Spiegel, who was my lifelong partner in business and in our shared dream of owning the Alouettes. He was also my close partner in life.

His death has effectively shelved the amazing plans we had for the Alouettes.

From the time we were first approached about this opportunity in 2019 and throughout our ownership, the dream Sid and I shared was to take the Alouettes to the promised land: a strong financial foundation, a growing fan base, a Grey Cup winning team, and deeper engagement with our fans and the Montreal community. We were ready and wanted to invest long-term in the future of the Alouettes.

Due to COVID-19 cancelling CFL play, Sid, who was the 75 per cent majority owner, sadly never got a chance to see his team play. I will always regret that.

Today, decisions related to team financing and operations rest with Sid’s estate. The close partnership Sid and I had, which included our shared love of sports and our ability to grow our team the way we have invested and grown our other joint businesses for decades, no longer exists.

I wish nothing but the best for our team, our fans and our community. I remain one of the Alouettes’ and the CFL’s biggest fans. But I will be cheering from the sidelines as I return to my role as a private citizen and step back. Thank you to everyone in Montreal. I will always cherish the memories we have made.