Siegfried Adolf Gutsche
Born: June 10, 1949 (Hanover, Germany)
Died: September 15, 2013 (Calgary)
Member: Stampeders Football Wall of Fame (2012)
The businessman Sig Gutsche salvaged the Calgary Stampeders from bankruptcy, guiding the Canadian Football League club to a rare period of solvency and on-field success. During his six-year tenure, the Stamps enjoyed sellouts, contested the West Division final five times, and won Grey Cups in 1998 and 2001. In the final year of his ownership, Gutsche was given permanent possession of the Keith Spaith Memorial Award, previously presented to the team’s most valuable player as voted by the fans.
Gutsche bought the Stampeders at receivership court for $1.6 million. He described himself as a “small player swimming in red ink” compared to the league’s other teams. The football club also proved to be a shrewd investment — Gutsche sold the team to an American cardboard-box tycoon for $8 million in 2001.
Gutsche built his fortune in the oil and gas business, while also investing in startup companies. He owned the local Hard Rock Cafe. He emigrated from Germany with his family at age 3. The family worked on a beet farm near Turin, Alta., for two years before moving to Calgary. As a schoolboy, he talked the local grocery into giving him their ripened produce, the best of which he sold door to door after school, making as much as $20 per day.
A later blemish on his resumé was the paying of a $58,000 fine in 1992 after pleading guilty to seven charges under the Income Tax Act.
Little was known of his biography before he bought the football team. The Calgary Herald profiled him under a headline reading, “Mystery Man.” They also incorrectly rendered his first name as Sid, not Sig.