MSL: City of Brampton had no knowledge of Excelsiors sale or move

Views from above of the Brampton Excelsiors bench, August 2019. (Photo: Anna Taylor)

The city of Brampton has already threatened legal action against the Ontario Lacrosse Association, In Lacrosse We Trust has learned.

In a November 4th letter obtained by ILWT, Mayor Patrick Brown writes to then-OLA President Marion Ladouceur that he intends “to do everything possible to keep [the] lacrosse team in Brampton and playing in the Major Series Lacrosse league. All available options including legal action are actively being considered,” and suggests that a vote to ratify the MSL’s decision to move the Brampton Excelsiors to Owen Sound is premature.

On October 15, the MSL board of governors unanimously voted to allow Joe Norton, owner of the Excelsiors, to move the club and all its assets, including the Excelsiors name, to Owen Sound in time for the 2021 season. Norton cited a lack of fan support in an Owen Sound Sun Times article as the reason for the move. News of the move leaked to the public early.

The OLA was apparently scheduled to vote to ratify the move on November 4, but it appears Brown’s letter pushed the vote, thus putting the onus to ratify or not on newly acclaimed OLA president Jim Bomhof, who came to power during the November 7 AGM.

However, questions have arisen over the legitimacy of the original sale, with tweets from Excelsiors board of directors’ member Ron Evans claiming that President Ziggy Musial finalized the April 2018 sale without consulting the Board, and that the agreement was kept from the Board for over two years until Norton announced the move.

If the board never ratified the agreement, is it legal? That’s what Brown wants to know.

“As you can imagine, many in the community are shocked that Mr. Musial would sign an agreement for $1500 especially when other members of the Brampton community would have offered to buy the team for more money and keep the team located in Brampton,” Brown wrote. “Given the concerns raised about whether the sale of the team was duly authorized, I would ask you defer tonight’s vote until the legal validity of the agreement can be reviewed and if necessary discussed and voted on at a Board of Directors meeting of the Brampton Excelsior Lacrosse Club.”

That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, at which point we expect to have a formal statement from the Excelsiors’ board of directors.

Norton told the Sun Times that “We had a lot of back and forth about it, both within the organization and with Brampton, and we just came to the final conclusion that the team needs a fanbase that can support the cost of running the team at this level,” but there was no consultation with either the Board of Directors or the City. Likewise, there appear to have been no initiatives to help raise funds to keep the team in the city.

Despite being a community-owned team, “the City had absolutely no involvement in the ‘sale’ or ‘move’ of the Excelsiors Club, in fact we were as shocked as anyone to hear of the potential move to Owen Sound,” said Brampton city councilor Jeff Bowman, an Excelsiors alumnus himself. “Excelsior Lacrosse has a very long and storied history in this City, and I am hopeful this can be resolved, and have the team and all its assets (the name, the logo, etc.) remain as part of our City’s rich sports culture.”