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Calgary Storm New Ownership

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It now appears that new ownership from within the Calgary area is prepared to take over the Storm within a week from now. I'm pretty impressed on how quickly was this process, that's if compared to the Whitecaps situation last year. It's quite likely that Mike Vandale was looking for new ownership since the winter time. The timing is very suspicious that so suddenly, and very quickly, Vandale managed to find new owners withing matters of weeks. Anyway, Here is the article from the local press in Calgary. Please enjoy:

Owner gives Storm the boot


After years keeping the franchise afloat, Michael Vandale has resigned as chairman and owner of the Calgary Storm.

Vandale, who's been majority owner of the organization since it started a professional team three years ago, handed the club's operations over to the United Soccer Leagues yesterday to find new ownership for the A-League squad.

"The team is sort of on hold for the next few days," said USL's chief of operations David Askinas. "They're on a break (from games) and don't play until next Wednesday. We're optimistic we'll be able to complete a deal by then.

"Our hope is we'll have a seamless transition into a new ownership group without the league becoming involved. If things need to be taken care of, the league will deal with them, on behalf of the new ownership group."

Vandale, who says he's lost $1 million operating the team, cites personal reasons for leaving the team but feels he's taken the Storm to a certain level and that someone else will have a better chance to make the necessary improvements the team needs.

The first issue upgrading Foothills Athletic Park, which is one of the smallest stadiums in the A-League.

"In order to get things to a head, this is really what had to be done," Vandale said.

"It was tough but really, right now, the franchise is here and it's important to keep it here. They need a new venue -- I've said that since the start -- and I don't think anybody would dispute that.

"Maybe the new ownership will have better luck dealing with the city. That's the biggest issue of all."

With a A-League franchise in Edmonton slated to begin play next season, the USL needs the Calgary franchise to keep operating for a regional rivalry.

The USL is speaking with two separate local groups in the hopes of having new management in place by the time the Storm leaves for a three-week road trip starting Wednesday in Seattle.

Calgary has a 4-10-2 record this season

The team won only four games last season.

The Storm has played competitive soccer lately and crowds at Foothills have grown accordingly.

Nearly 2,000 spectators showed up for the Canada Day matchup against the Toronto Lynx, which Calgary lost 2-0.

Head coach Tommy Wheeldon said rumours of the management change have dogged the players for a couple of weeks and the change could bring some enthusiasm to the team, especially if the new owners can bring in some fresh talent.

Although he wasn't shocked by the announcement of Vandale leaving, he certainly wasn't happy about not having the soccer enthusiast who was willing to put his money on the line.

"I'm disappointed to be losing Michael because he's been fabulous to me," Wheeldon said.

"Michael has been the only one prepared to put money into professional soccer (in Calgary) and he's got to be commended for that."

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Here is another article from the Calgary Herald

Vandale gives up on A-League dream

USL takes over franchise, looks for new ownership

George Johnson

Calgary Herald

Friday, July 04, 2003

Dave Askinas called it a hiccup.

Tommy Wheeldon called it a distraction.

Mike Vandale called it a day.

"It's just, well, time someone else took over,'' explained Vandale, in handing the keys of the Calgary Storm over to the United Soccer League after close to three years footing the bills.

The Storm have not folded. For the moment, consider them orphaned. Askinas, the USL's chief operating officer, emphasized that discussions are already underway with two Calgary groups to assume control. As of now, the team's upcoming six-game road swing is not in jeopardy. Business, he added, to be conducted as usual.

But we are, after all, talking semi-pro soccer here, which has a mortality rate in this country of just-hatched baby sea turtles separated from the pack on their way back to the water.

Once again, the fate of the game seems to be hanging in the balance.

The refrain is so sad, yet so achingly familiar. So many tries, so many crises. So much passion, so much heartache. Such fanciful dreams, such sobering reality. Such grandiose plans, such clumsy execution.

Maybe these guys all spent too much time in their youth heading balls on cold, wet nights. Only a deeply-ingrained -- some might say blind -- love of the game could convince anyone to try.

Without divulging commas and decimal points, Vandale -- who certainly had his critics this past year and a half as the Storm struggled in the quantum leap in on-pitch calibre from the Premier Development League to the A-League -- estimates a personal hit of over $1 million in the two-and-a-half years.

"This is only an interruption,'' was how Askinas described the situation. "We told the team to take the weekend off, go on furlough, and we'll be back to them on Monday. The players shouldn't worry. They'll be paid for the time.

"I guess you could say the franchise is in limbo, but we fully hope to have news of permanent ownership soon, perhaps as early as next week. We're confident things will work out.

"Mike did what he could. He gave his heart and soul to the Storm. But for personal reasons he had to step aside. That was only Phase 1. We need somebody now who can take the franchise to Phase II, and that means forging closer relationships with the soccer community in the area.''

The remaining 18 league owners are set to vote on whether or not to equally absorb Calgary expenses until the end of the season, as a safeguard should suitable new ownership not be unearthed in the meantime.

A two-thirds majority would be needed to carry the motion. Askinas estimates the bill to play out the remaining 12 Storm games at between $80,000 and $100,000.

A league takeover would be a next-to-worst case scenario. The worst being . . . well, you shouldn't need Sir Alex Ferguson to draw a diagram.

"That dollar figure is really not a big burden, if you divide it up,'' said Askinas.

"In fact, the league has recommended the owners accept the proposal. We remain convinced that Calgary can be a successful franchise. A provincial rival (Edmonton) is coming on board next year. It's important to us that Alberta remain a strong presence in our league.''

As he was exiting the pitch, stage right, Vandale took time to issue a red card to an ongoing complaint of his -- the condition of creaky old Foothills Athletic Park.

"It's the biggest obstacle we faced,'' he reiterated. "We go to a one-off in Saskatoon and draw 6,000 fans, then we come home to Foothills and play in front of 1,500,'' he sighed.

"Calgary is a city of a million people with a lot more money than Saskatoon. So why (are) there 6,000 there and only 1,500 here?

"The venue simply is not good enough.''

When asked the last time he approached the city about funnelling money into a re-do, he replied: "A while ago. It's a difficult sell, with roads and infrastructure money going elsewhere.

"I hope the new ownership group has better luck with an upgrade to Foothills. I certainly didn't have any. What we do have here is tremendous corporate support. I can't say enough good things about the way we were supported in that area.

"Whoever gets involved will also need to strengthen the ties with minor soccer. The Edmonton team joining the league has a deal with the minor soccer community there that brings them $15 with every registration in return for a season ticket. That means $600,000 up front to that franchise. It's so important to be strong in that area.''

On the pitch, the Storm players continue training, doubtless on pins and needles about what will transpire over the next week or so.

"It's been difficult for the lads,'' conceded coach Wheeldon. "There've been rumors floating around the city for three weeks now. The boys get out and about and hear them, and they can't help but wonder. I was actually very pleased with the spirit they showed against Toronto (a 2-0 loss), because we found out what was happening just before the game.

"We've been told that the league is looking for new ownership, or that it could take the franchise over.

"It's a tough thing to go through but just look at Vancouver. They went through a similar situation last year and now are going from strength to strength.

"You've just got to believe things will work out.''


© Copyright 2003 Calgary Herald

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  • 3 weeks later...

Breaking news. Minorsoccer.com is over in Germany looking for backers in his bid for the Calgary franchise. Here he is in Berlin.


Pardon the banana cream 3!

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