Mario Cecchini’s final day as the president of the Montreal Alouettes will be filled with many goodbyes, but few will be more heartfelt than from general manager Danny Maciocia.
On Thursday, Maciocia honoured his departing colleague with a public letter, thanking him for his role in shepherding the franchise through one of the darkest chapters in its history.
THANK YOU MARIO!
The relationship that Mario Cecchini and I have built over the last three years has been incredibly special. In a short time, he became more than just a president to me, he also became a great friend.
His ability to communicate and his words of encouragement helped me enormously during the challenges we have faced since joining the Alouettes together in January 2020.
Mario always had the organization’s best interest at heart and he never put himself before the team. He always looked out for his players, his staff and the fans. He helped create a family atmosphere at the office, and always looked after his people. He was, in a sense, a coach for us all.
Mario’s experience and wisdom helped lead us through some difficult battles. It wasn’t always easy, but he found a way to help grow the Alouettes brand during his time here. He showed a remarkable amount of courage while serving as our team president, and he always seemed to have a pulse for our football team both on and off the field. Mario is a true leader that always did the right thing, even when it was not always easy to do.
I may be losing a president today, but I have also gained a lifelong friend. I’m extremely grateful for the time we spent working together and I will cherish the memories we built for the rest of my life.
Mario, I wish you continued success in the next chapter of your professional life. You will always be part of the Alouettes family!
Both Cecchini and Maciocia were hired in January 2020, shortly after the team was purchased by S and S Sportsco, a corporate entity owned by steel magnate Sid Spiegel and his son-in-law Gary Stern. The executive helped lead the team through the COVID pandemic and the cancelled 2020 season, laying the groundwork for a later resurgence.
The Alouettes saw increased ticket sales under Cecchini’s watch and, according to published data, are one of only three teams to achieve an increase in attendance from 2019 to 2022 alongside B.C. and Winnipeg. However, his contract with the team was not renewed in December after Stern reportedly grew impatient with the lack of immediate financial returns in his strategy for long-term growth.
The Spiegel estate — which controlled a 75 percent ownership stake in the club following Spiegel’s death in July 2021 — stopped funding routine football operations shortly afterwards. The CFL seized control of the Alouettes on February 14 and brought back Cecchini in an interim capacity, allowing him to oversee day-to-day operations while the franchise was sold to Quebec billionaire Pierre Karl Péladeau.
During his brief period of unemployment, Cecchini was put forth as a candidate to become the commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was confirmed for the role on March 7 and is scheduled to begin work on May 8.
Cecchini extended his stay with the Alouettes to assist with the ownership transition, but will now make way for new president Mark Weightman — who also served in the role from 2013 to 2016. However, he has made it clear that the organization will remain close to his heart, issuing the following statement on Thursday.
To the Alouettes family,
So here we are… my last day as President of the Alouettes, what an honour it has been!
Thank you to all the fans for rocking the stadium at each game! I will miss exchanging with you on the sidelines, in the stands, during practices or at happy hours – so many great memories!
Thank you to our partners – don’t stop supporting this now 100% local team.
Best of luck to Mark, the future is bright!
Thank you to the players who give their all for this team! The ultimate goal is at hand.
Through all the challenges, these last three years are, for me, carved in stone forever!
And yes… the most precious memory is to have been able to meet all these extraordinary people!
Thank you and Go Als Go!
Weightman will officially assume the role of president on Tuesday, April 11.