B.C. Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

David Braley, the owner for the B.C. Lions, died Monday morning, the Canadian Football League club has announced.

He was 79 years old.

The Lions say Braley, who had owned the team since 1997 when he rescued the struggling B.C. franchise from bankruptcy, died in his sleep in his hometown of Hamilton, Ont.

The Lions won three Grey Cups (2000, 2006 and 2011) with Braley as team owner.

“We share this news with the heaviest of hearts. David has been a proud and fiercely loyal owner of our team, a champion of the Canadian Football League, and a leader for whom his love of our game and our country went hand in hand and spanned decades.  We share our deepest condolences with his family, friends and admirers,” said Lions president Rick LeLacheur.

David Braley also once owned the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  PHOTO BY DAVE THOMAS /Postmedia Network

For years, rumours, have swirled that the Lions were available for sale but Braley’s asking price, which was one time reported to be $40 million, would scare off potential buyers.

“How long will I continue to own the team? It could be one, it could be eight, it could be 10 (years). I have no idea. As long as I’m in good health I see no pressure to sell. If somebody’s got $100 million, then I might think about selling. Right now, the team is not for sale. And I’m looking forward to my 18th season,” Braley said in 2014.

Braley also served as owner of the Vancouver 86ers, later the Vancouver Whitecaps, of the now defunct professional soccer A-League from 1997 to 2000.

The cause of death was not released but the Lions said Braley died in his sleep.

The Hamilton businessman and former Conservative senator was hospitalized in 2016 with a diabetic-related foot infection.

David Braley

David Braley, the owner of the B.C. Lions Football Club, speaks during a press conference introducing the program of events for the 102nd Grey Cup Festival in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, September 17, 2014. The 2014 Grey Cup game will be played in Vancouver, B.C., on November 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jimmy Jeong ORG XMIT: JCJ106
Jimmy Jeong,
David Braley, the owner of the B.C. Lions, died Monday. PHOTO BY JIMMY JEONG /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Braley made his fortune in auto parts.

He purchased the Hamilton-based Orlick Industries Limited in 1969 and remained the company’s owner and president until he died.

Braley, who managed to own both the Lions and Toronto Argonauts at the same time from 2010 to 2015, first dabbled in CFL ownership in 1989 when he purchased and ran his hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats for three seasons before selling the club to a community-based group.

He was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and was awarded the Order of Canada last year.

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