SammyGreene wrote:With a club president who wanted out and a GM/coach on verge of retirement this can't happen soon enough.
Braley should take the $20 million and be happy. If the trend of lower ratings for all TV sports continues as streaming is the chosen option over cable continues then it will be hard to see the value of CFL broadcasting rights continuing to rise or even remain status quo. At least there is a small increase this season.
problem with braley asking $40m is last 5 years he has made over $20 million on two vancouver grey cups and $1-$3m a year on the lions. Lets call it $28M. Problem is he has taken all that money back to hamilton ... and donated to universities and such ... and hasn't reinvested it in the lions infrastructure.
Its not like the eskimos which are sitting on $20M in cash and recently built and $120m practice facility.
Or the riders which have $30mil in the bank.
He can't ask for that if he is not reinvesting in the business.
There are a lot of different ways to view David Braley. One simple way is to 'see' David Braley as a Hamilton wealthy business owner who became a 'savior' who propped up the CFL financially at its most perilous times over the last 30 years as a largely unseen benefactor, as an owner who rescued franchises, as a general 'good guy' who only really cared about being a CFL football fan and preserving our Canadian brand of football, and as a Hamilton philanthropist who wanted to give back to his community.
As part of that first picture is to view Braley as the magnanimous man who purchased our B.C. Lions in 19996, therefore saving our Leos and the CFL by doing so.
In 1995, the U.S. expansion dream had crashed and a year later our Lions, the Ottawa Rough Riders and Montreal Alouettes were all in receivership and the CBC had warned that they would bail as a television partner if the CFL could not field a team in Vancouver. For many of us die hard Leo fans (and that was all we had left in 1996) when Braley took over our Leos, we had a a season ticket base of 3,500 and a string of previous owners had walked away in despair. It had been an ownership mess here in Leo Land, ownership wise, for a long time.
Braley has long been highly regarded for purchasing our Leos and being a hands-off owner. Braley made a very astute hire in Bobby Ackles.
Bobby Ackles worked tirelessly and skillfully to bring the fans back and bring in good players. Ackles made two key hirings in 2003. He hired Bob O'Billovich as our Director of Player Personnel. O'Billovich had previous experience as a Head Coach and a G.M. Ackles also hired Wally Buono as HC/GM.
The combination of O'Billovich and Buono, with Ackles leading the way, gave us our glory years from 2003-2007.
During that time period we had the most talent in the CFL and we won four West Division titles and a Grey Cup in 2006.
Before purchasing our B.C. LIons, David Braley had previously owned the Hamilton Tiger Cats for a while, when Harold Ballard couldn't find a buyer. Braley offered $500,000, which was financed with proceeds from the Tiger Cats five-year sponsorship agreement with Players Tobacco. But after three seasons Braley, who was opposed to the CFL's expansion into the U.S,. gave the club to a local not-for-profit corporation but continued to finance the club periodically and quietly with loans.
]By 2003, the CFL was in trouble again, this time with both the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts in midseason bankruptcy. From 2003 - 2009, , Braley helped to finance the Argos without the knowledge of almost everyone in the league, including commissioner Mark Cohon, who had been hired in 2007. Braley characterized the arrangement as loans, not dissimilar to those he'd made to other clubs.
After The Globe and Mail, in 2003, unveiled Braley's financial relationship with the Argo owners, the CFL immediately passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Eight months later, Braley became the Argos' new owner.
Braley was now the owner of two CFL teams and the CFL's most powerful man. Our Leos and the Argos would play host to a number of Grey Cup games, since Braley became the owner of both the Argos and Leos and all would make Braley a lot of money. For example, in 2012, Braley earned as much as $10 million in profit as the host of the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto, as the Argos and the CFL, received $9.5 million from the federal and provincial governments to celebrate the game. The Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages gave $5 million while Tourism Ontario spent $4.5 million.
Another way to view David Braley is a cold opportunist and shrewd businessman who, having saved his beloved Tiger Cats, while making a tidy profit on loans to the franchise, saw a rock bottom price here in Vancouver and purchased our Leos, believing he could turn our Leos into a profit making franchise and one day sell the team at a huge profit.
In Toronto, he quietly and secretly lent the Argos money at a profit, as he had done in Hamilton. When that fact was discovered, Braley purchased the team, once again at a rock bottom price, hoped to turn it into profitability and then sell it soon (a couple of years) at a huge profit.
Braley did get our Leos turned around into the black, due to Ackles great work in turning our Leos franchise around and Braley also made money from hosting a number of Grey Cups. Braley also benefited, by having our Leos be able to play in a taxpayer funded $458-million renovation of B.C. Place, that included a retractable roof. In Toronto, Braley had hoped to sell the Argos in a couple of years but experienced difficulties in securing a new home for the Argos. Braley said, when he bought the Argos in 2010, he thought this would be a two-year journey but he failed in his attempts to find a home at the University of Toronto and York University meant it took Braley a whole lot longer to sell the Argos.
This second picture does not view Braley becoming involved with the CFL mainly for altruistic reasons.
Instead Braley is either making money from loans, including secret loans, using vulture capitalism to purchase franchises at almost give away prices, attempting to make annual profit from them (worked in B.C, not in Toronto, recoup any previous losses by future sale of the franchise, if incurred, and also make a big profit as well. Nothing wrong with that, if this is the real picture. It just changes the 'optics' of Braley's involvement.
Many very wealthy business owners like to own sports franchises. Pro sports are high profile, giving an owner lots of publicity and credit that they don't get from the relative obscurity of being a highly profitable business owner.
Braley's involvement with the CFL led to Braley brought him the type of fame, celebrity, and high profile name that he would never have received as a wealthy auto-parts owner in Hamilton nor would Braley have ever become a senator without his CFL aspirations.
In Braley's case, his involvement in owning two franchises in Vancovuer and Toronto and his heavy involvement in numerous ways in Hamiltion gave Braley a ton of power. He was chairman of the CFL Board for a while, the most powerful man in the room, and knew where all the skeletons were, so other owners deferred to him.
Negotiations were very tough in Toronto, with Braley demanding a big pay day for selling the Argos to his annual losses there. Braley's ownership in Toronto came under a lot of fire, with his demands for an outrageous sale price for the Argos as well as a percentage of future revenues being cited as a factor in why he struggled to sell the Boatmen. Braley's inability to find the Argos a stadium solution for so long was also a big part of the team's attendance , scheduling, and financial struggles. The Argos' marketing budget was slashed as well, and several top executives left, contributing to his annual losses in Toronto.
Braley not only failed to quickly land a new site for the Argos to play but also by being cheap, unwilling to spend to incur greater losses for a team that he wanted to turn into quick profitability and then sell quickly for a big payday. Its been a miserable time for the Argos players and coaches since Braley took over their team.
Here in B.C, Braley hired the recently fired Buono in 2003 and from 2003-2007 the combination of Ackles, Buono,and O'Bilovich gave us our glory years. But Braley, IMO, while being profitable here in B.C. made mistakes in hiring Skulsky, giving Buono a life time contract, and being too much of a hands off owner, mostly just focusing on rewarding our President Dennis Skulsky and our GM Wally Buono for making Braley money. Braley mistimed selling our Leos and Buono stepped in this season to become our HC again, after two failed attempts to hire a Head Coach who would bring us success.
With Buono back on the sidelines the goal was to return to winning ways, get more bums in the seats, and then sell the team for a bigger profit. If that happened, Buono would be financially rewarded.
If anyone believes that Buono just returned to the sidelines this season just because he cared so much about the players and the fans and just missed coaching, and is loyal to Braley, they need to get rid of some very rose colored glasses or stop drinking Wally's Kool Aid.
The whole thing about Buono's return to the sidelines was about Braley getting the franchise turned around to sell it at a bigger profit and Buono getting a hefty retirement bonus if he could help Braley do so.
But the problem here in B.C, is that Braley has been so cheap with marketing, as he was in Toronto, that even Buono's return to the sidelines and an exciting, winning team has not brought the fans back in the droves that was desired before selling. The problem here in B.C. over the past few years has been the same Catch 22 as it was in Toronto. Braley hasn't wanted to pour money into a team he's was looking to get rid of.
Braley is asking for about 40 million bucks for our Leos and he may also be attempting to secure a percentage of future profits as part of the deal, as he attempted in Toronto. We don't know if was able to accomplish that as part of the sale of the Argos but Braley sure wanted that stipulation as part of the sale.
Braley, by being willing to put his money into struggling franchises in Hamilton, B.C. and Toronto was a positive, because banks were not going to do that, and no one else was stepping in. But Braley has also been a shrewd businessman, who will leave his involvement with the CFL, even with his annual losses in Toronto, much richer. He made money on his loans to Hamilton and Toronto, his annual profits here in B.C. his Grey Cup hosting profits, and his sales of the Argos and Lions will make Braley a much wealthier man.
As an absentee owner, he gained notoriety, received tons of credit, and didn't do much work, while lining his pockets. He also used some of those profits to gain respect and appreciation in his home town of Hamilton in donating to numerous causes (and receiving some of the money back for those charitable causes in tax refunds. That's a smart businessman and smart person in those ways.
As a Leos fan, our Leos franchise benefited for a long time due to the stability of Braley's ownership. But when Braley was not able to replace Bobby Ackles with a very credible person to fill his big shoes and when Buono did not 'mentor' the right person to replace him in Benevedes and we marketed the team poorly, didn't target young people, women, and other demographics, and didn't do enough to create 'game day experiences, we began to lose our fan base (of course there are other factors too).
So, now we have a low fan base, a 66 year old Head Coach/GM who has been in such heavy control for so long that others have not really been prepared to step up easily, and unknown future owner.
Things look nebulous.
We can look at our Leos franchise as the "Good Ship Lollipop" or the "Titanic" or something in between. One notion is "that Braley has his Lions in a positive situation with regards to attracting potential buyers: A competitive team with a good youthful roster, good scouting and coaching as I mentioned above, an excellent practice facility in Surrey. The new owner is expected to come in and hire a new President, HC, GM causing absolutely no angst among the fan base".
That is the positive look at it. Another notion is that an exciting, competitive team is not bringing back fans and may never bring them back, no new President, GM. or Head Coach appears imminent as a future successful successor, and whomever buys the team will not have an easy time being profitable, unless they can buy it with cash.
But change is needed. The CFL benefited from Braley's deep pockets but he also had way too much power as a dual owner and too many conflicts of interest. Here, in B.C. Braley's penny pinching ways have not been as bad as in Toronto, where the Argos have suffered greatly in terms of practice facilities, meeting rooms, etc. But marketing and game day experience has badly suffered
In the bigger picture Braley has been about profit. The notion that Braley is 'all heart', as some reporters have written is misguided. Both Braley and Buono are very self-focused. Braley is also 'old school', like Waly is 'old school'. Braley doesn't have a cell phone, which as one writer said may make him "the only multimillionaire on the planet not permanently attached to a BlackBerry". Braley doesn't have a computer either. He had one but got rid of it because he said his 'employees were sending him emails to cover their behinds'.
Wally doesn't use head phones on the sidelines and is old school in a lot of other areas too. In this regard, Braley and Buono are birds of feather In other ways as well.
Braley says to his employees "I pay you to make good decisions. Make good enough ones, I keep you. Make too many bad ones and you're gone". Buono says to his 'employees' (his players) go out there and make good plays. Go out there and 'execute'. If you don't make enough plays and execute you'll be gone.Both Braley and Buono are hard nosed types with no frills and no sentiment.
Our Leo players only used their IPads on the sidelines this season because Tedford introduced them last season and our players wanted to keep using them. Watching Jennings and Lulay looking at a play review on their IPads during a game only happened because someone new came in and introduced a 'new school' concept that benefited our Leos team.
If Tedford hadn't done that, we would have still been using stone tablets and chisels under Buono.
A lot of the time, people are comfortable with 'old school'. Its conservative and doesn't involve change so it feels safe. But if our Leos franchise is going to get turned around, its going to take some 'new school' concepts in marketing, game day experiences, as well as some old 'tried and true' to move our Leos back to where we need to go.
But we are now in a situation that a new owner would assume a lot of debt to purchase our Leos franchise and have to incur debt, in order to market better, to attempt to turn things around. That means we will need a future owner or group of owners with deep pockets. Not going to happen any other way successfully.
This can't be done on the cheap anymore and winning is not the only answer to getting things turned around here in Vancouver and B.C. for our Leos (getting badly whollaped in the playoffs doesn't help either).
I'm not overly worried about a new owner being more hands on than David Braley. Football is not like hockey, a simpler game to watch, where an owner can more easily think he knows best regarding which players to play, trade, sign, etc. Football strategy is too complicated for most owners. They might have a view of a coach or quarterback but most football owners don't get over-involved in the player/strategy side, unless they are a Jerry Jones type.
The future transition of our Leos is fraught with potential pot holes with an absentee owner selling the team, the outgoing President who wanted to quit a year ago still here, and an old GM/Coach who has been the face of the franchise and completely so in control and so controlling, that leadership potential has not flourished under him due to those constraints.
We live in interesting times as Leo fans.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)