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Former Calgary Stampeders owner Sig Gutsche dies

In this file photo, Sig Gutsche, a Calgary businessman and owner of the city's Hard Rock Cafe, makes an offer to buy the CFL's Calgary Stampeders Wednesday, June 14, 1995 in Calgary, Alberta. The Stampeders announced their former owner had died in a statement on Sunday

CP

Former Calgary Stampeders owner Sig Gutsche passed away on Saturday at age 63.

The team announced his death on Sunday in a statement.

Gutsche took over the Calgary franchise on April 3, 1996 and owned the Stampeders until 2001. His tenure as club owner was marked by success on and off the field.

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The Stampeders were in financial difficulty when Gutsche bought the club, but in his six years as owner he stabilized it. At the same time, Calgary posted a combined 67-40-1 record, finishing first in its division three times, reaching five West Division finals and winning Grey Cups in 1998 and 2001.

"The Stampeders and football fans in Calgary will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Sig for his passion and commitment to the franchise," said Stan Schwartz, the Stampeders' executive vice-president and consultant to the executive committee.

"He came on as owner at a very crucial juncture and helped the Stamps through very difficult times. We offer our deepest condolences to Sig's family."

Gutsche was also instrumental in the establishment of the Calgary Stampeder Alumni Charitable Foundation.

As a token of appreciation Gutsche was given permanent possession of the Keith Spaith Memorial Award in 2001, a trophy that previously had been presented to the team's most valuable player as voted by the fans.

Gutsche was added to the Stampeders' Wall of Fame in the builders' category in 2012.

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