Trouble in Montreal?

After only 1 year on the job, Ray Lalonde has left the Als for "personal reasons". Many within the Als organization said that his arrogant attitude strict policies was a hindrance to the organization including not getting along with GM Jim Popp. Most importantly, the Als season ticket base and sponsorships dropped significantly this past year.

"Lalonde was hired and, almost immediately, told the office staff they must remove family photos from their work stations, believing that gave the appearance of an unprofessional organization. Birthdays no longer were to be celebrated with coffee and cake. Senior sales representatives were told they no longer would be allowed to take potential clients to lunch.

Corporate sponsorship, which totalled more than $6 million as recently as the 2007 season, now hovers at about $2.5 million. Major sponsors, including Subway, Nissan and Discount, have deserted the team. Companies were paying $150,000 each to have their logos painted on the field at Molson Stadium, but Lalonde decided those markings cluttered the field unnecessarily.

Season-ticket sales once were in the 18,000 range, higher when including corporate tickets. Today, they’re slightly over 14,000.

Before Lalonde, ticket renewals were mailed to subscribers in October. They were given a discount if they renewed early. But Lalonde told his staff to wait until December, with many subscribers facing price increases."

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The above goes to show just how quickly things can go sideways with a CFL franchise. The Als sponsorship revenues of $6 million is staggering! Most teams are lucky to get even 1/4 of that. Heck it wasn't all that long ago the whole league barely got that much. And within one year, their season ticket base dropped from 18,000 to 14,000. This is after the club renovated the stadium! It appears that the huge financial advantages the Als had to most other CFL teams has almost disappeared overnight under Lalonde's lone year at the helm. :thdn:

Wow, didn't realize this. Good that they got rid of this guy. I guess you never know who you're hiring really. :?
Hopefully this means they won't be as good on the field for a while. :wink:

What a putz, staright out of Horrible Bosses.

It is a complicated situation and things could unravel really quickly, especially if the on field performance drops.

Now what I think may happen is unless the Als find someone the media accepts and endorses a lot of questions are going to be asked. This franchise as basically cried poor ever since its been in Montreal and with Corporate sponsorship of 6 million, its own TV deal, highest ticket prices in the league a regular turn at hosting the Grey Cup and going to the big game 8 times in 10 years. Something dosen't jive here.

Where's the money been going ??? the owner has himself and 3 family members listed as directors, while I'm the first one to applaud profits and dividends, I have a feeling our owner has been doing very well for himself and his family. No one in Montreal has ever seen his two sons anywhere near the team. It won't be long before the media starts to dig. As I said in the team's forum I would not be surprised if the team is sold to local interests in the next two or three years. This team needs some infrastructures for training facility and offices and it needs some new connections within the business community and Doctor is around 80 years old. Then there is the whole quesion of his investments with stocks being what they've been over the last 4 years.

The Alouettes are going to need a long term vision and some funding to build or acquire infrastructures. Lalonde likely saw that and was probably working with that kind of vision. Ownership is more interested in seeing their return every year. Realities have collided...

When the alouettes are no longer a dominant team, we will find out how well off that franchise is in that city. Montreal can be fickle at the best of times, so the Als better straighten out whatever mess was created in the last year and get back to their usual ways. They've been a model franchise in the league for over a decade now, it'd be a shame to see that change because of backwards thinking.

The business side has been on a slide since Smith left the first time. This mess has been seven years in the making. It won't get fixed overnight.

I don't want to disappoint other team fans who might expect that this front office mess will trickle down to the on-field product.....

Jim Popp has a firm grasp on Football OPS side since '96 & team has been very competitive since then, don't think your wish will happen anytime soon....

If the next president can't straighten out this mess, Wetenhall should do the right thing and sell the team to a local group. It is absolutely unacceptable that a franchise with such a high level of on-field success for the past 10 years is in the position it's in right now, where it's losing money and vast chunks of its season ticket base.

That's as long as the owner is willing to eat money...

Weird, a super stadium with a friggin awesome background in Mont Royale in Montreal, and the owner could let this crap happen? Shame, shame, shame but as said, Popp may be able to keep the on-field product viable, when you have a guy like Calvillo still around and in shape, well, they will be competetive I think despite the administrative disaster going on.

I listened to an interview on the Als radio broadcasting network and what I got is that just about everyone in that organization has a direct line to Wethenaul. So basically the Als President is a PR face and sales manager to give the impression to the locals that a Quebecer is running the show. But in fact the team is unmanageable.

Your right about that. Montreal has had some great success since they were reborn, but in all honesty I have never really trusted that market. We may soon find out just how devoted they really are. I worry about the long term stability of Montreal more than Toronto. Montreal`s soccer team is putting 50k into the Big Owe for games right now. Is that were market forces are shifting?

Football is the fastest growing sport in Quebec. The problem the Als have is that they are completely disconnected from their fan base. The owner lives in New York and does not communicate with fans like Bob Young does for example and the GM and HC live in North Carolina. Think for example in Hamilton if Obilovich, Young and Bellefeuille/Cortez were not around for six months out of the year and barely visible during the season. How the hell are you going to sell football that way in a market like Montreal that has a Formula 1 race. Pro Tennis, Nascar race (most years), pro soccer, Jazz fest, Just for Laughs and a permanent tent to the Cirque du Soleil for the summer ???

Alouette football in Montreal connects to their fan base 10 days a year. Those 10 days have been awesome on the field but its kind of like going to a movie. You pay your money you spend two, three hours and that's it. You pretty much don't hear or see them till the next time you pay your next ticket. They need to be front and center more while staying a winner. Not sure how they are going to do that. I'm expecting some pretty huge changes over the next year, possibly even new ownership. Or at the very least they should change Jim's title to President even if he does most of the same things and name Joey Abrams or Marcel GM and let them interact with the media and the fans on a regular basis. As for their corporate customers drying up again CEO's pay for access, they may not come right out and say it but it is implied when you plunk 100k and up that you will have a relationship with ownership or management.

This Lalonde guy sounds like a real headcase and definitely not a people person that should be running any operation.
As for the Als, just a minor blip in the overall scheme of things.

Is it Montreal Impact that’s putting 50k into the Big Owe, or is it David Beckham? They got big numbers for their first ever MLS game and record breaking numbers when they hosted Beckham’s team, LA Galaxy, but for their other two home games so far, they got 19,223 and 23,120. Good numbers for soccer in Canada, but not earth shattering. For comparison’s sake, TFC also pulled in 47,658 spectators when they hosted Galaxy at the Skydome earlier this year in the Concacaf Champion’s league finals, but in the next round, when they hosted the Mexican team Santos Laguna, in what should be considered a more important game, they didn’t even fill BMO.

The Impact haven’t played enough home games yet to give us a good sense of what their support levels will be like, but based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks they’ll attract large crowds for special events, like inaugural home games or hosting teams with famous players, but otherwise their attendance numbers will be low enough that there’s not really a threat to the Als, provided they’ve got their house in order.

The Montreal Impact brought in 60,860 spectators at Olympic Stadium for the past home game, and 58,912 last month.
It is pleasing to see such support for it's soccer team, although disheartening to see the lackluster support for the storied Alouettes.

and while continuing as a perennial powerhouse is a virtual impossibility, hopefully the core fanbase will remain if/when a true downturn arrives.

The CFL is such a beloved league for a few friends and I, that it is troubling to see any franchise struggle at the gate.

Bang on IMO. Big changes coming in the next few years.

While I don't really see what people see in soccer entertainment, the fact is there are a lot of people from other cultures in Montreal, many cities, that relate to soccer and know the sport and relate to someone like Beckham that played in the big European leagues in Europe. Playing for a team with the name "Los Angeles" on it doesn't hurt either. I get that. And I'm sure tickets for games at the Big Owe are fairly cheap. Just the way it is and that is fine, I'm happy for the soccer fans really. I wish all the success to all of Canada's soccer teams despite my indifference to the game for my entertainment.

Never trusted that market?! The only real CFL football market that seems to have the steady flow of fans win or lose is Saskatchewan. Any other CFL team in any of the other markets have had their share of issues over the years. Two CFL teams have the same owner!
As for drawing 50k at the Big O. This is an inaccurate statement. They have drawn that number for two home games. One was for the first home opener as an MLS frnachise and this past Saturday to see Beckham. The other games were nowhere close to that number. Somewhere closer to the 20k mark. And the team will be moving to the renovated Saputo stadium next month which holds in the vicinity of 20k.

Als drew average attendances last year in and around 24k.