Jay McNeill sees an opportunity.
The newly hired Vice President of Business Operations for the Calgary Stampeders is well aware of the challenges facing the team. They own stadiums that are well past their expiration date and have seen their season ticket base erode over the past few years.
But McNeil was also in the stands at McMahon Stadium as a Labor Day Classic fan. He saw first-hand how over 30,000 people cheered on the stamps and parking lots filled with tailgaters.
He also knows how many young people are playing football at the grassroots level.
“I was very lucky to be in the stands for Labor Day. It was a great atmosphere. “My son and I were walking around the parking lot before the game and seeing everyone tailgating was a great vibe.
“When you think of a football game on a beautiful day, whether it’s Labor Day Monday or not, it was exactly what you think of. I would like to see it.”
McNeil returns to the Stampeders after nearly 15 years since he last wore football boots as the team’s offensive lineman.
He was a three-time CFL All-Star and six-time West Division All-Star, winning two Gray Cups in 13 years from 1994-2007.
McNeil experienced the team’s euphoria in the late 1990s, which regularly drew more than 30,000 fans to its games, and a downturn under Michael Fetterick’s ownership.
As such, he knows very well what the Stampeders mean to Calgary and is a firm believer in the idea that the Stampeders remain important to the city’s sporting fabric today.
“This team and the clubs in this city have a great legacy and are deeply ingrained in the fabric of society,” McNeill said. “A lot of people don’t know that, so it’s about getting back there and recreating the excitement.”
In his new role, McNeill will oversee all aspects of the Stampeders’ business operations.
It’s a role that only he can do.
After retiring, McNeil remained in Calgary and built a strong name in the business world. He has led sales and business operations for companies such as his Trinidad Drilling, Tervita, Secure Energy, and most recently he served as his COO role for Cleantek Industries.
All of that experience will obviously help him in his new role, but CFL isn’t your typical business. Luckily, McNeill was never far from the league.
“The business of football, especially CFL football, is a little different,” McNeil said. “Fortunately, I have been incredibly fortunate to remain a member of the league.After retiring, I served eight years as vice president of the Players Association and still serve on the Board of Directors of the CFL Pensions Committee. I understand the CFL and have obviously been away for a while, but I also understand and have a lot of connections at the league and union level.”
If you’re looking for someone to run your Stampeders business, McNeil certainly ticks all the boxes.
But it’s not an easy task. Challenged and aging, McMahon Stadium is at the top of the list.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders have all moved to new stadiums over the past decade, the Toronto Argonauts have new bargains when they begin residencies at BMO Field, and the Ottawa Redblacks have moved to TD Place. benefited from a major renovation of the Stadium, the Stampeders still play at the stadium he built in 1960.
McMahon Stadium doesn’t have the modern amenities that fans have come to expect when paying to watch a game in person.
That’s a problem and McNeill knows it.
“This is a challenge and we are very aware of it,” said McNeil. “Certainly during the recruitment process, that was something we talked about and something we had to deal with. , probably the most asked question in the last 24 hours was, ‘When are we going to get a new stadium?
“So definitely everyone is on the radar and everyone is definitely aware of the challenges it presents and we are going to do our best to overcome them.”
But every job has its challenges, and while McNeil isn’t avoiding them, he also sees great opportunities ahead.
Calgary still has a strong following. There are young people still discovering the game, and older generations who have been rooting for the Stampeders for decades, but may not be attending the game as often these days.
“It’s clichéd, but you go back to the grassroots and get kids excited, you go into the game because you want to be a part of it, and as you grow up you become interested in not just football in general, but the Stampeders. It’s about building relationships,” says McNeil. “In the last 24 hours, many people have reached out to me and said, ‘I remember going to a game with my dad when I was five years old, but I haven’t been there in 15 years.’ That’s amazing.Why?’Why haven’t they come in 15 years? They don’t know how to answer that question.
“It’s about creating that excitement and getting people excited to come see the game. ”
New business boss McNeil sees opportunities for Stampeders to grow
Source link New business boss McNeil sees opportunities for Stampeders to grow