There will soon be a new majority owner for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
RDS has learned that Steve Leal, president and owner of Fix-Auto, a world leader in the field of bodywork, is about to acquire 60% of the shares of the New Brunswick formation which has a storefront in the heat region since 1998.
Steve Leal has been in talks for several months with the owners of the Titan (a group of 11 local shareholders chaired by Serge Thériault) and it would only be a matter of weeks before the transaction is formalized.
Questioned on the subject, Mr. Thériault did not deny the information mentioning: “We are in talks and it is true that we would like the arrival of a new majority shareholder to help us in the management of the team. »
Mr. Thériault, however, did not confirm the name of Steve Leal as a possible investor.
The team remains in Bathurst… but for how long?
The Titan have suffered financial losses for several years and the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped. Even if the city, through its mayor Kim Chamberlain, supported the Titan last November with a grant of 200 thousand dollars, the fact remains that we are talking about a deficit of more than a million dollars over the past three years.
Serge Thériault is aware that by selling the majority of the shares to a new outside investor, there is certainly a risk in terms of the sustainability of the team in Bathurst.
“We would definitely like to see the team stay in Bathurst but the support of the fans is paramount. At an average of 1,500 or 1,600 spectators per match, it’s hardly viable! »
According to what we learned, Steve Leal would like to set up a QMJHL team on the South Shore of Montreal in a few years. Obviously, for that, he will have to build a building that meets the standards of the Quebec circuit.
Questioned on the subject, Commissioner Gilles Courteau mentioned having met Mr. Leal and having assured him that there would be no possibility of moving as long as there is not a suitable building.
“(Mr. Leal) is aware that we want to keep all our teams where they are. In the event that there is a new building that can house a team, it could become possible to operate a transfer one day, but there is no question of returning to the Verdun Auditorium or the Maurice-Richard Arena in the meantime. »
It appears that Mr. Leal has very good connections with the Caisse de depot et de placements du Québec; the latter has also invested several million dollars in 2015 in the company Fix-Auto, which specializes in post-disaster car repairs.
The file is very advanced because Steve Leal already has his man of confidence to manage the hockey operations of the team, namely Doug Marshall, a specialist in advanced statistics who could become the next general manager of the Acadian formation.
Sylvain Couturier still has three years on the contract that binds him to the Titan as GM of the team, but he could see his contract bought out if the Leal-Marshall duo comes, the latter is from Milton, Ontario.
Fix-Auto, Leal’s company, is already involved as a sponsor at the QMJHL and CHL level.
Obviously when the time comes it will take a majority vote of the other owners of the QMJHL for a concession transfer to take place.
In conclusion, the Titan, in Bathurst, may be living on borrowed time, unless things change dramatically in terms of attendance.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan plays in the Canadian Hockey League’s smallest market. In 2019-20, the last season before the pandemic, he averaged 1,600 spectators per game at the KC Irving Regional Center.