In a statement to the press, B.C Lions stated that David Braley died at home in his Burlington, Ontario, Canada, on Monday morning. A cause of death was not given.
Braley entered the CFL in 1989 as the owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The franchise became community-owned in 1992, but Burlington, Ont., wasn’t gone long, returning to football ownership in 1997 when he bought the Lions.
David Braley also owned the Toronto Argonauts from 2010 to 2015 when he announced the franchise’s sale to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. Braley served as the chairman of the CFL’s board of governors and as interim commissioner (March 2002 to November 2002).
“David has been a proud and fiercely loyal owner of our team, a champion of the Canadian Football League, and a leader for whom his love of our game and our country went hand in hand and spanned decades. We share our deepest condolences with his family, friends, and admirers,” Lions president Rick LeLacheur said in a statement released by the team.
“One of his final acts of devotion to Canadian football was a clear expression of his desire that the stability of our club is maintained through a smooth transition following his passing. We will work closely with David’s estate to follow that plan.”
Braley’s football teams have won four Grey Cups. B.C. has accounted for three of them (2000, 2006, and 2011) while Toronto captured the historic 100th Grey Cup in 2012.
Bob Young, who refers to himself as the Tiger-Cats’ caretaker and not owner, is mourning Braley’s loss. “He was an enthusiastic Hamiltonian and a wonderful benefactor to our community’s hospitals and universities,” Young said in a statement. “The CFL and Hamilton communities have lost a great leader and champion today.
“While David Braley well known for his role with the B.C. Lions, he was also always, at heart, a Ticat fan. Our sincerest condolences go out to David’s family and his wide circle of friends and admirers across our community.”
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement said Braley would “forever be remembered as a CFL legend.” He added Braley was “our champion in every sense of the word.”
“He also championed the CFL itself, as a member of its board of governors, its chair and as an interim commissioner,” Ambrosie added. “Most of all, though, he championed an idea with passion and purpose: that the Grey Cup, the CFL, and Canadian football play an incredibly important role in Canadian life and culture, and they deserve to be supported and cherished.”
He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012, and the athletic center at McMaster bears his name. He received the Order of Canada in 2019 for his contributions to the CFL and his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.
Braley was also a philanthropist and contributed $5 million to the athletic center at McMaster. He has also made significant donations to the Cardiac, Vascular, and Stroke Research Institute at Hamilton General Hospital, which also bears his name.
“We have lost our greatest champion. All of us associated with the Lions have personally seen, time and time again, David’s selfless commitment to our club and our fans,” LeLacheur said.
“But his example and inspiration, along with the direction he provided us all as his health failed, fuels our confidence in the Lions future. The B.C.Lions will continue to work hard to honor his memory by being the best we can be on the field, in the boardroom, and the community.”