Fri, January 07, 2005

Huddle up

Stamps sale parties will meet on conference call

By DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

Several scenarios are developing as a local group continues its quest to finalize a deal to buy the Calgary Stampeders. Although the Ted Hellard /John Forzani group's purchase of the CFL franchise is still the most likely outcome, insiders claim a deal with current owner Michael Feterik should have been completed by now.

All parties are expected to partake in a telephone conference call this morning in an attempt to iron out the final details while a deadline to complete the transaction has been pushed back to the end of next week.

The issues holding up the deal apparently include who will assume responsibility for costly severance packages for president Ron Rooke and GM-head coach Matt Dunigan , who both have two years remaining on their contracts.

Those buyouts could exceed $1 million.

The new ownership group would reportedly hire Tom Higgins to replace Dunigan and one-time Stampeders president Stan Schwartz to return to his former role.

Schwartz has been helping to conduct the new ownership team's due diligence process.

If a deal can't be finalized, local businessman Bruce Urban could become a factor.

Should a sale to the local group fall through, Urban could step in to make an offer to buy the team outright or form a partnership with Feterik .

Urban surfaced unexpectedly Wednesday as a possible suitor for the team and is now directing all inquiries to his lawyer, John Merrett .

"The speculation is that these things don't go on forever," Merrett said yesterday.

"The purchaser does due diligence and comes to a conclusion one way or the other and either a deal's done or it isn't. We're hopeful that it's not in the too distant future that it's clear one way or the other."

Meanwhile, despite uncertainty surrounding the current Stampeder regime's future, director of Canadian player personnel Miles Gorrell plans to attend the East-West Shrine Game Jan. 15 in San Francisco.

"It's business as usual and nobody's told me different," said Gorrell , whose contract expires at the end of January.

Gorrell wants another look at three Canadians including McMaster running back Jesse Lumsden , who the Stampeders could select first overall in April's Canadian college draft.

Rooke has been vacationing in Mexico and is expected to fly back to Calgary this weekend before returning to his office next week.

Hellard was unavailable for comment.

Dan Toth , Calgary Sun