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Stern seeking additional investment in Alouettes

Gary Stern Gary Stern - Montreal Alouettes

Montreal Alouettes minority partner Gary Stern says the Canadian Football League team is seeking investment from French-Canadian partners in a process without limits on how much of the club’s ownership could land in new hands.

“We have been looking for good, solid, French-Canadian partners who really understand Montreal and the province,” said Stern. “I want them to step forward and call me. If that’s there, we are wide open to taking in partners.

“I’m looking for French-Canadian partners connected in the community who have a better feeling for the vibe, and we think that’s important. Whether it’s 10 per cent or 90 per cent, we are wide open to talk.”

Stern and his late father-in-law, Sid Spiegel, purchased the Alouettes in January of 2020, just weeks before the pandemic shut down much of society and forced the CFL to cancel its 2020 season, leaving the pair to fund the team with virtually no incoming revenue.

Spiegel died just weeks before the start of the 2021 season, putting three quarters of the franchise’s ownership into the hands of his estate. Stern retains a 25 per cent share.

“What percentage is for sale and how it would all work is 100 per cent open,” Stern said. “[Potential new investors] may insist on running it. That’s all wide open … we’ve never shied away from having partners come in.

“I do love the Montreal Alouettes and I have put three years into this, so my intent is not to get out. We’re wide open. I can’t speak for [the estate] but I believe they are wide open too.”

Stern stayed active in steering the club and serving on the CFL board of governors until late August of 2022 when he announced he would be taking on a silent role, leaving the Alouettes oversight to the estate.

Stern said that remains the model of operation.

“The estate is doing most of the managing of the day-to-day of the club and they come to me for advice. Despite what people want to say, we get along well. We just move at two different speeds.

“I go a lot with the gut feeling … they can’t move at lightning speed because they are an interim manager who will pass the club on to future beneficiaries. We’re all working together for this. Unfortunately, I would like to move faster but because I can’t, I let them do it.”

Stern also addressed the recent departure of club president Mario Cecchini who was hired at the same time as general manager Danny Maciocia, immediately after Spiegel and Stern purchased the team in January of 2020.

Cecchini was not offered a contract extension when he left for vacation a week ago, although it’s believed he hadn’t closed the door on returning.

Under his direction, the Als cut financial losses significantly, made consecutive playoff appearance and raised attendance from 13,063 during the 2021 season to 17,683 this past season.

 “Unfortunately, in the end it was mutual that it was best we move on,” said Stern. “I’m not going to elaborate on what that means, and I wish him the best.

“We’re going to start a process shortly of hiring a new president of the Alouettes and we will allow Danny [Maciocia] real input into that. The president will come in and inherit a really good football team and can move it along and keep it operating with a balanced budget. The interview process will start within two weeks. It will be done in a good manner and there are tremendous candidates out there.”

Cecchini tweeted as message to Als fans on Thursday morning that stated he had been told by the estate that his contract was not being renewed.

Meanwhile, Stern remains bullish on the Alouettes on-field prospects. The recent hiring of Jason Maas as the team’s new head coach will allow Maciocia to concentrate solely on the GM role.

 “We see Danny as the real leader of the Montreal Alouettes. He went out and hired a great coach in Jason Maas whom he thinks will be a great fit for the team,” he said. “He’s put together a team of people he likes and who know his system. I keep saying to Danny ‘thank you.’ I really believe he’s going to bring the Grey Cup to Montreal.”