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Edmonton Elks looking to sell team after 75 years of community ownership – Edmonton | Globalnews.ca

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The Edmonton Elks could be a privately owned club by the start of the season after 75 years of community ownership.

In an update on Wednesday, club officials said the team has set a cut-off date of mid-April for potential buyers to express interest in ownership. Elks officials said they’d like to have a shortlist of candidates by May and have a new owner in place by mid-June.

Global News has learned Garrick Jones of 73 Holdings is one of a dozen groups interested in buying the Elks. Team management told Global News it hopes to have a new owner in place for the start of the season.

The Elks announced that team president and CEO Rick LeLacheur, as well as board chair Tom Richards, provided an update to the Canadian Football League’s Board of Governors on its ongoing ownership review on Wednesday.

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That update is based on the findings of a special committee working with Park Lane, a sports investment bank that managed the sale of the Montreal Alouettes a year ago.

“As long as the ownership group has deep pockets in order to sustain losses in the short term then I think that’s really important,” said Dan Mason, professor of Sport Management at the University of Alberta. “If they don’t that could really put pressure on the team and put them in a situation where the team is in trouble financially and swimming in red rink and that kind of thing.”

Mason said private ownership could be a good thing for the club.


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“It might change the landscape of the way the club is managed. Because, to this point, it’s been seen as a community asset, so they’ve been trying to draw revenues from the team. It will change things a bit when it comes to looking at the bottom line,” Mason continued.

Richards told reporters in November that the goal of the five-person committee is to ensure “professional football continues to thrive as a member of the Canadian Football League in Edmonton and northern Alberta.”

“The special committee will bring forward recommendations to the club’s board of directors, which will ultimately determine the best ownership structure for the club moving forward,” reads a statement from the Elks issued Thursday. “The club has no further updates on the special committee’s work at this time and will provide more details when appropriate.”

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Edmonton’s football team has been community-owned since it was founded in 1949.

The team had an operating loss of $3.3 million in 2022, the fourth straight year it ran at a deficit.

The committee includes board members Richards, Brent Hesje and Darryl Boessenkool, along with previous board members Diane Brickner and Bruce Bentley, who serves as chair.

The franchise has amassed 699 all-time wins — tying it with Calgary for the most in league history — and won 14 Grey Cups, the last coming in 2015 when it finished atop the West Division with a 14-4-0 record.

Edmonton hasn’t reached the CFL playoffs since 2019 when it crossed over into the East Division after finishing fourth in the West with an 8-10 record.

Since the CFL resumed play in 2021 — the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to cancel the 2020 season — Edmonton has recorded three straight last-place finishes in the West Division, with records of 3-11-0 in 2021 and 4-14-0 in both 2022 and 2023.

A 30-20 win over Ottawa on Aug. 28 ended a 22-game home losing streak, the longest in North American professional sports history.

The franchise averaged just over 24,700 spectators per game this season — which included a season-low crowd of 19,921. This year’s attendance is down significantly from 2015 when the franchise averaged a CFL-high 31,517 fans per game.

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Next season, Edmonton will close the upper bowl at Commonwealth Stadium, which has a seating capacity for 56,400 fans.

with files from Global News

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