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Partner in bid to own the Canucks says Olympic windfall solved purchase issues

Tom Gaglardi told a B.C. Supreme Court civil trial Wednesday that he and his two partners were ecstatic when they heard GM Place had been promised no less than $18 million from the Vancouver organizing committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Gaglardi said he and his partners were excited because they knew if the money went towards the team, it would solve several stumbling blocks in reaching agreement.

"We were all giddy about it. It was an unexpected windfall and more than enough to cover the disadvantages in the deal."

Gaglardi said his partnership was concerned about the aging GM Place scoreboard, which would likely cost $7 million to replace.

He told the court they also knew a US $3 million payout was due to former Canuck star Mark Messier in 2007.

Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie are now suing the third partner, Francesco Aquilini, after he purchased 50 per cent of the team in 2004.

The partners accuse Aquilini of secretly negotiating against them and using his inside knowledge to out-bid them for the team and stadium.

Aquilini, who has since exercised his option to buy the rest of the team, denies he's done anything wrong.

Gaglardi said negotiations were going well with Orca Bay CEO Stan McCammon near the end of 2003 when suddenly McCammon told the trio that getting a deal was like fitting square peg in a round hole.

He testified they had added worries with reports and rumours that others may be bidding for the team.

But Gaglardi said they were reassured by Orca Bay management.

"In every instance we were told we were the only ones at the table."

Around the new year in 2004, negotiations grew frustrating and Gaglardi said they sent a e-mail to McCammon reassuring him the purchase was in no way intended to be hostile, that they wanted to be partners with Canucks' owner John McCaw.

"We thought it would be prudent to sort of drop our pants and show them our underwear, if you will," Gaglardi said.


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