Simon Sports, a division of Simon Group Holdings in Birmingham, acquired the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team, which plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sam Simon, founder and chairman of Simon Group Holdings, a diversified holding company that includes Atlas Oil in Taylor and interests in aerospace and defense, insurance, real estate, wine, and more, purchased an 85 percent stake in the team from Bobby Smith, a former forward with the Montreal Canadians who acquired the team in 2003.
The team was founded in 1994 by the Oland family and Moosehead Breweries.
“When we came to this community, I’ve got to tell you we fell in love with it,” says Simon, whose son, Peter, is the President of Simon Sports. “The people, the fans, the community, you guys have a beautiful place. And the Mooseheads, everybody loves them and it’s a community team.”
Smith is expected to assist the Simon family going forward as a consultant. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is one of three sub leagues of the Canadian Hockey League.
“He’s going to have to help us a little bit, guide us along, show us around,” Simon says. “This is not my team, it’s the community’s team, so I want to make sure I will be a good steward for everyone here.
“(Smith is going to) be with me for a few more years. He’s going to have to help us a little bit, guide us along, (and) show us around.”
During his tenure as owner, Smith says: “Every season has been enjoyable, to watch these young players improve, form lifelong friendships, and reach their potentials.”
For several years, Simon has been looking to acquire a sports team, and was close to buying the Detroit Pistons two decades ago. With his twin sons now entering Simon Group Holdings — his other son, Michael, is close to graduating from college — the family will be active in overseeing the Mooseheads.
“We’ll be back and forth but I think the city will see, and the community will see, and the team will see that we’re very hands-on people,” says Peter Simon, who holds a degree in sports management.