Cui was raised in Edmonton, passionate about football, but then went to Asia to make his fortune in sports. He co-founded a mixed martial arts empire in Singapore. He’d witnessed first-hand how the massive Chinese audience consumed sports.
And, when he returned to his hometown, he was tasked with much more than running a football team. He was plugged into this city’s (failed) bid to host World Cup matches in 2026. He worked with the City to find new ways for Commonwealth Stadium to be utilized. More concerts. More unique events, such as the World Cup Big Air snowboarding tour stop that rocked the stadium this past winter. A man-made slope that stretched from above the top row of seats down to the playing surface? That was out-of-the-box thinking.
And Cui wanted to bring in more — from ultimate frisbee to multicultural musical events.
“Anything that requires our field of play,” Cui had told our sister publication, Edify. “There are some exciting new sport opportunities out there that we can work with.”
Now that Cui is gone, and the Elks are two to three weeks from bringing in an interim CEO, how does this work continue?
“It’s a City-owned building:” said Tom Richards, the chair of the Elks’ Board of Governors. “We’ve got senior staff who are capable of picking up the baton, of any initiatives that got started. So, I would fully expect that anything that’s got some traction, we’ll continue to pursue it.”
With events like a soccer World Cup or a Commonwealth Games off the table, those who promote the city to the world know that they have to face some harsh realities — and to understand that the business of attracting events to our city is changing.