Larry Ryckman - Career - Sports - Calgary Stampeder Football Club of The CFL

Calgary Stampeder Football Club of The CFL

In 1991, Ryckman purchased and privatized the Calgary Stampeders Football Club of the Canadian Football League (CFL). At the time the team was struggling financially and Ryckman was widely credited for saving the team. Many changes took place under his ownership, including the signing of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Doug Flutie, quarterback Jeff Garcia from San Jose State and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and in team management and player personnel. Offices and locker rooms were renovated, new stadium signage was created and a new marketing campaign was built around "The New Calgary Stampeders". During his tenure the Stampeders broke dozens of league and team records, participated in five Grey Cup Championship games, and won the Grey Cup in Toronto in 1992, for the first time in 21 years.

During his five years in the CFL, Ryckman co-chaired the CFL expansion committee with late actor John Candy and served on the Executive Committee of the CFL Board of Governors. In 1993, he purchased the rights to host the 1993 Grey Cup game for the City of Calgary from Toronto Argonauts owners Bruce McNall, John Candy and Wayne Gretzky. The 1993 Grey Cup festival drew a capacity crowd of over 50,000 spectators. Ryckman constructed and donated new private luxury boxes at the Stampeders home field, McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Ryckman was subsequently awarded the CFL's Outstanding Contribution Award for his contributions to both the league and as a Governor.

Despite the games won and league-leading attendance, the team continued to lose money after the termination of provincial Lottery funding and in the absence of a meaningful league TV contract. Ryckman sold the team in 1996 through a voluntary receivership which served to eliminate the prior government debts the club inherited when he took over the team. The Stampeders remain one of the top teams in the CFL.

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