Pierre Karl Péladeau has deep pockets with new vision for Montreal Alouettes

Photo courtesy: Minas Panagiotakis/CFL.ca

New Montreal Alouettes owner Pierre Karl Péladeau said a lot of the right things at his introductory press conference on Friday, namely that he’s in it for the long haul with a team that has had financial and on-field difficulties over the last few seasons.

The outspoken former leader of the provincial separatist party Parti Quebecois has his critics. During his time in politics in the 2010s, he made public anti-immigrant and anti-English language gaffes.

But he does have deep pockets. Forbes estimates his personal wealth at $2.6 billion CAD, while his entity Quebecor Inc. is a media and telecommunications empire. Péladeau, who inherited his empire from his late father, thanked the other CFL governors for their support after speaking with them over Zoom recently.

In his lengthy opening statement, both in French and English, Péladeau confirmed that he purchased the franchise personally and not through his corporate entity. Péladeau spoke to Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia and looks forward to having him run football operations. He also thanked outgoing president Mario Cecchini for his work with the franchise and mentioned that he will make an announcement soon regarding the club’s next president, a role for which several candidates have been identified.

Péladeau said that it was premature to address the fact that Quebecor, which owns TVA Sports — a direct competitor to RDS — will not have the ability to broadcast any games through 2025. Perhaps the most awkward moment came when Péladeau was addressing the media rights and went on to boast about Videotron’s success over the last 20 years in taking business away from Bell, which owns RDS and TSN.

Quebecor’s TVA Sports carried the press conference live, while both RDS and TSN, the current CFL media rights holders, were conspicuous in their failure to carry it on network television. However, TSN 690 radio and TSN.ca made online feeds available.

With holdings throughout the province, including sports entities, Péladeau was adamant that this team is a provincial team. The Als have to make it a community team and the players more accessible and known to the fans. He isn’t in it for the money, instead, because he’s a proud Montrealer.

The 61-year-old was asked if he would be open to collaborating with CF Montreal, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, and their ownership on a joint new stadium effort. He replied that he and the Saputo Family, who owns the soccer team, have a good relationship, and he’s open to having discussions.

It’s clear that the league was looking for a deep-pocketed owner who is in it for the long haul. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie noted that approximately 10 groups showed interest in purchasing the Alouettes. Peladeau and Quebecor have been involved in sports franchise ownership for many years, so his track record is there. He was also instrumental in Quebec City building a new arena. So provincial infrastructure expertise with this ownership is also a part of the equation.

But while Peladeau played up his passion for the province and for the city of Montreal, he also played up his business acumen. Thus, it’s hard to see him willing to lose money, year after year.

It’s easy to conceive of him pouring money into marketing and building a better community presence for the team and its players in the short term. But if sponsors and ticket sales don’t rise, will he stay patient?

With Peladeau talking about how this team has to be a provincial team, will he be trying to stage some home games in Quebec City at some point? Further to that, does the league view him as the one to finally bring a tenth team to the league, and a second club to La Belle Province?

Time will tell. But one thing’s for certain: the man likes to set the bar high and get the job done, so expect a lot of Alouettes action off the field in 2023.

Péladeau inherits a playoff team that, due in part to off-field instability this offseason, lost several of its top players, including receiver Eugene Lewis and quarterback Trevor Harris. The team brought in former Roughriders’ passer Cody Fajardo to potentially be the new face of the Als under head coach Jason Maas.

Matthew Ross has covered sports in Montreal and beyond for over 20 years. He's contributed to outlets such as TSN, MLB.com, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post, and more. His Twitter account is @matthewevolves.