Thu, January 06, 2005

Urban saddles up to Stamps

Businessman poised to make bid

By DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

A new player is poised to make a bid to purchase the Calgary Stampeders should a local group fail to close a deal soon.

Bruce Urban, president of Western RV Country, said yesterday he has met with current owner Michael Feterik and discussed the pending sale of the franchise to local buyers.

That group includes businessmen Ted Hellard and John Forzani , who have been working for more than two months to complete the purchase and could finalize the deal by the end of this week.

"Michael and I discussed a lot of things," Urban, 36, told The Fan 960.

"We didn't get down to price. I kind of have an idea where I think that would need to be but, at this point, I'm kind of sitting on the fence waiting to see where the other fellas who are going through the process are sitting.

"Mike and I met on New Year's Eve (in Los Angeles) in the afternoon and had a great meeting, shook hands and said, 'Let's see what happens this week.'

"That's kind of what I'm waiting for, to see if Bruce Urban stands a chance to buy this team."

Urban said he is biding his time to see if the Hellard/Forzani group can finalize the sale, adding it's his understanding there is "some separation" between the local group and Feterik , adding "a time frame runs out at the end of this week."

Presumably, that information came from Feterik , a possible breach of the confidentiality agreement he signed barring all parties from discussing the negotiations.

"I have the perfect answer for that one -- phone Michael," suggested Hellard when asked about the terms of the pact that for weeks has prevented both sides from talking about the deal.

Other local groups were also interested in buying the Stampeders but backed away when the Hellard/Forzani group entered serious discussions with Feterik .

Urban could have been drawn into talks by Feterik , eager to create a bidding war to ratchet up the price.

"It doesn't worry me at all, it just frustrates me that the press would pay any attention to this kind of thing," Hellard said about the presence of a potential new buyer.

Urban started his Western RV business empire in 1991 and now has three Alberta locations with annual sales of more than $70 million, according to his company's website.

He said he has been a Stampeders fan for many years and started working at McMahon Stadium as a pop vendor when he was 12.

Urban said he looked into joining the Hellard/Forzani group but was denied. He said he then decided to investigate purchasing the team on his own.

Urban suggested he would keep coach-GM Matt Dunigan and president Ron Rooke on staff if he buys the team.

Feterik , a California businessman, bought the team from Sig Gutsche in 2001. His controversial reign has included three consecutive losing seasons without a playoff appearance.

Feterik's ownership included the removal of legendary head coach-GM Wally Buono, the front-office placement of inexperienced COO Fred Fateri and the controversial presence of son Kevin Feterik , who was on the roster as a backup QB until late in the 2003 season.

Fateri still claims to own a share of the team and has entered a legal battle with Feterik to reach a settlement.

Feterik was unavailable for comment but, according to Urban, is planning a trip to Calgary this weekend.

Dan Toth , Calgary Sun