That the B.C. Lions are for sale is not news, but owner David Braley’s video on the Lions’ website has Canadian Football League fans talking.
Ontario auto parts magnate Braley bought the team in 1997. The former Hamilton Tiger-Cats boss also owned the Toronto Argonauts from 2010 to 2015. The 75-year-old set no sale deadline, only to say that he does not want to own the Leos when he’s 95.
Braley did not say who is vying to take-over the 1954-established club, which has suffered an attendance slump at B.C. Place Stadium over the last three years. The actual 17,533 attendance for last November’s West semi-final win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was a record low for a Lions’ home playoff game.
A source leaked a list of the suitors for the six-time Grey Cup champs to theBreaker:
- Luigi Aquilini – Aquilini Investment Group
- Roberto Bosa – Bosa Ventures
- Alex G. Tsakumis – Trigate Properties Group
- Moray Keith – Dueck Auto Group
- Mark Woodall – Special Risk Insurance Managers
- David Sidoo – East/West Petroleum
University of B.C. Thunderbirds booster Sidoo played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1983 to 1987, retired as a Lion in 1988 and embarked on a career as an investment banker.
The Aquilini family owns the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena. It also has extensive farming, real estate and industrial holdings.
Eldest son Francesco Aquilini counts reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady as a friend and has dreams of owning a National Football League franchise someday.
Developer Bosa is a prominent Lions sponsor with development holdings in Canada and the U.S. Insurance executive Woodall is also a Lions’ booster.
Tsakumis was a multimedia commentator on politics, but three years ago returned to a family company with an extensive real estate portfolio spanning two provinces and five states.
Keith’s Dueck GM is Canada’s biggest car dealership. He is also a driving force behind the Lions’ Waterboys’ business booster group, which met for breakfast at the Vancouver International Autoshow on March 29.
“Other than confirming I’ve had very cordial conversations with Mr. Braley, I can’t provide you with anything further at this point,” Tsakumis said to theBreaker. “Anyone should be privileged to own a sports asset like the B.C. Lions.”
“I just adore the Lions, a wonderful community asset,” Keith told theBreaker. “Whoever is lucky enough to be the owner of the Lions, this isn’t something you’re going to make a lot of money on, this is something you’ve got to have a passion for.”
Last year, Braley’s price tag was rumoured to be around $40 million, but has since come down to $20 million.
“What’s the right number on the team? I don’t know,” Keith said. “If you do it as a business proposition it’s going to be a lot lower than it is if you buy it on a valuation that’s done from your heart.”
Lions’ training camp begins May 25 in Kamloops. Regular season kicks-off June 24 at B.C. Place with a visit from the Edmonton Eskimos.