Those of us of a certain age will remember the famous ad campaigns for Remington shavers. The company’s owner, Victor Kiam, told us that he liked the product so much, “I bought the company!”
(Trust me, these ads were famous decades ago).
And that’s kind of how James Burns sees the Edmonton Stingers. On Thursday, Burns, Tank Vander and Stingers CEO Reed Clarke were unveiled as the new owners of the CEBL team.
“It’s about giving back and having kids play,” said Burns. “I know everybody says this, but we’re not in this to make any money. It’s giving back. It’s fun. And, maybe, some day, you sell the team, but that’s Neverland. If you want to make money, go do something else.”
Burns, the former CEO of Alcanna, has been in Edmonton for about five years, and had been a dedicated fan since the basketball team first played in 2019. When the CEBL launched, it had six teams, which were franchises that were owned by the league office. The philosophy was to walk before you run (or dribble). Slowly, the league has grown while selling off the assets. Commissioner Mike Morreale said six of the 10 current teams are now privately owned.
Vander has been a business partner of Burns for years, and is the founder of Ace Liquor and the president of the liquor division at SNDL, which used to be Alcanna.
“I’ve been a Stingers fan and season-ticket holder since day one,” said Burns. “I just sold a business last year and I didn’t have anything to do. So I reached out, and it turns out that I knew some people who worked at the CEBL. Canada is a small place, everybody always knows somebody — there are one or two degrees of separation. I saw some announcements, that someone I know is bringing a team to Winnipeg, and that Calgary and Vancouver are going to private ownership, so I just popped up out of the blue and said are you interested in selling Edmonton? And here we are.”