The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Force FC announced a new ownership structure on Sunday, with the creation of Hamilton Sports Group.
The new HSG will own and operate both the CFL’s Tiger-Cats and soccer’s Forge FC, as well as a master licence agreement with the city’s 23,000-seat Tim Hortons Field.
The existing ownership group will retain majority ownership and continue to manage the teams. “Caretaker” Bob Young will remain as HSG’s chair and largest single shareholder.
“My goal as Caretaker has been to ensure our teams prosper for at least another 153 years,” Young said in a statement. “We will do this through a commitment to strong values. Ours include a commitment to serve our community and demonstrating leadership through the pursuit of excellence.”
The expanded ownership group also includes Hamilton-based Stelco along with senior sports executives Scott Mitchell, the current Ticats and Forge CEO, and Jim Lawson, the CEO of Woodbine Entertainment.
“This is an incredibly exciting time to be a Hamilton sports fan,” Mitchell said. “This new structure ensures our leadership and vision remains in place while adhering to Bob Young’s ‘Caretaker’ ethos as stewards of the community and its professional sports teams.”
Stelco has a long history of supporting and promoting local business and the sports community in its more than 110 years in Hamilton. Stelco’s chairman and CEO Alan Kestenbaum, who will represent the company’s ownership position, is a minority owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and a long-time football fan.
“Since arriving at Stelco in 2017, I have continued to be amazed at the spirit shown by the local community and have experienced firsthand the rabid local support for the Tiger-Cats,” Kestenbaum said. “This is an overdue union of two Hamilton icons.”
Mitchell, who becomes managing partner and CEO of Hamilton Sports Group, has been with the Tiger-Cats since 2008 when he was appointed president. Mitchell and Young are also co-founders of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), in which the Forge plays.
Lawson, a Hamilton native, has been the CEO of Woodbine Entertainment since 2015 and is a former chair of the CFL board of governors, twice serving as its interim commissioner.
“I have a long family history with the city of Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats that spans three generations,” Lawson said. “The passion of the fans and community support is unmatched.”
Hamilton’s teams have experienced recent successes. The Tiger-Cats hosted and played in the CFL’s 108th Grey Cup last month, the team’s second consecutive appearance. Forge FC is one of the CPL’s original teams, won back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020, and will play in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.
Tim Hortons Field will host an upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier between Canada and the United States.