Hamilton Tiger-Cats receive highest valuation in CFL history: report

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Published January 27, 2022 at 4:30 pm

A new report suggests the Hamilton Tiger-Cats received the highest valuation in CFL history. 

A new report from one of the most well-respected Canadian Football League insiders suggests the Hamilton Tiger-Cats received the highest valuation in league history.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Tiger-Cats and Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League were part of a new ownership structure with the creation of Hamilton Sports Group (HSG). The new entity owns and operates both sports clubs, and holds a master license agreement with Tim Hortons Field — the home stadium used by both the Ticats and by Forge.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats receive highest valuation in CFL history: report

TSN’s Dave Naylor is reporting that the value placed on those assets was more than $50 million.

Majority owner Bob Young recently welcomed a new group of investors into the fold, including Stelco, which took on a 40 per cent share of HSG.

“That means Stelco paid roughly $20 million for its 40 per cent share, quietly marking the highest valuation of a CFL franchise in history,” writes Naylor. “In other words, the business of operating a CFL team in Hamilton seems quite healthy and sustainable.”

Stelco’s chairman and CEO Alan Kestenbaum represents the company’s ownership position in HSG. He is also currently a minority owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Stelco is joined by senior sports executives Scott Mitchell (current CEO for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC) and Jim Lawson (CEO of Woodbine Entertainment) as minority owners.

Mitchell, along with Young, is a co-founder of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) and its commercial partner, Canada Soccer Business (CSB).

Hamilton Tiger-Cats receive highest valuation in CFL history: report

Young purchased the Ticats in 2003 after both Hamilton and the Toronto Argonauts filed for bankruptcy, throwing doubt on the league’s future in Southern Ontario. Since then, Young has turned the franchise into a viable business. The Argos, on the other hand, continue to struggle to find a place in Toronto.

“Meanwhile, the team that plays 67 kilometres away (from Hamilton) had a rebound on the field last season but not in the stands, where Toronto continued to have the league’s worst attendance,” writes Naylor. “The Argos’ biggest home crowd of 2021 was for a playoff game that was loaded with Tiger-Cats fans from down the highway.”

He adds that the Argos have had four owners since 2003, the latest being Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

“While there was great hope that synergies within Canada’s richest and most powerful entertainment company would produce a Toronto CFL renaissance on the shores of Lake Ontario, it hasn’t happened. And there are no signs that it’s coming,” writes Naylor.

The Tiger-Cats hosted and played in the CFL’s 108th Grey Cup last month – the team’s second consecutive appearance.

Forge FC are one of the inaugural teams in the CPL, winning back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020 and will compete in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.

Tim Hortons Field will host an upcoming FIFA World Cup qualification match between Canada and the United States. Other notable events scheduled at the stadium include the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s 2022 Heritage Classic in March, and the 110th Grey Cup in 2023.

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