In 1946 Lew Hayman established the Montreal Alouettes, which joined the Canadian Football League. They won the 1949 Grey Cup (defeating the CALGARY STAMPEDERS) and, led by quarterback Sam ETCHEVERRY, made 3 successive Grey Cup appearances (all losses to the EDMONTON ESKIMOS) from 1954 to 1956. Etcheverry finally won his Grey Cup in the 1970 game, coaching the Alouettes to victory over Calgary. They faced Edmonton in the final in 1974, 1975 and 1977-1979, winning Grey Cups in 1974 and 1977 under Marv Levy.
In 1977 the Alouettes moved into Montréal's Olympic Stadium (58 367 seats) and enjoyed several years' success. In 1981 Vancouver entrepreneur Nelson Skalbania purchased the team, brought in several high-priced American players and the following year declared the team bankrupt. It was bought by Charles Bronfman and the name was changed to Concordes, but the team continued to lose millions of dollars. It was turned over to former Eskimo General Manager Norm Kimball in 1987. The name reverted to Alouettes again, but the team was disbanded before the season began.
Repeated attempts to resurrect the team also failed, despite the backing of the CFL. When the CFL's experiment with American expansion failed after the 1995 season, the one remaining US franchise, the Baltimore Stallions (Grey Cup winners in 1995), relocated to Montréal and revived the Alouettes' name, bringing CFL football back to the city after a 10-year absence. Baltimore owner Jim Speros sold the team to local interests in 1996. The Alouettes won an impressive 12 games in 1996, but could not repeat as Grey Cup champions, losing to the powerful Toronto Argonauts in the playoffs. During the 1996 off-season, New York investor Robert Wetenhall took over the ownership of the club. The Alouettes established a franchise record in 1997, winning 13 regular season games. After defeating the BC Lions in the first playoff game in a sold-out McGill University's Percival Molson Stadium, the Alouettes lost to Toronto in the division final. In 1998 the Alouettes played their first complete season in 25 years at that stadium, located in downtown Montréal. The Alouettes tripled their 1997 season ticket sales and averaged an increase of over 6000 spectators per game. After they eliminated the defending champion Toronto Argonauts, the Alouettes lost in the eastern division final to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Until 2009 the Alouettes' most recent Grey Cup win was at Edmonton in 2002 when they defeated the EDMONTON ESKIMOS by a score of 25-16. In 2003 they played the Eskimos at Regina but lost by a score of 34-22. In 2005 they played the Eskimos again at Vancouver but were defeated 38-35 in overtime, and in 2006 they were defeated by the BC Lions 25-14. The team advanced to the Grey Cup final again in 2008, but they lost to the Calgary Stampeders with a score of 22 to 14.
The Alouette's win in 2009 was arguably one of the most exciting in the team's history of Grey Cup appearances. The team, led by coach Marc Trestman, had been heavily favoured to win the Cup after posting a team record of 15-3 for the season and building one of the strongest offensive and defensive lines of the teams that year. Their initial chances were slim after being outplayed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders for much of the game, but Montreal's luck turned around in the last ten minutes when a series of touchdowns closed in the Roughriders' 16-point lead. In the final play of the game Damon Duval kicked a last-second field goal on a second attempt after the Roughriders had been penalized for having too many men on the field. The goal gave the Alouettes a one-point lead, allowing them to beat out the Roughriders and clinch the game 28-27. They played the Roughriders again in 2010, beating them with a score of 21-18. It was the team's 7th win in 18 Grey Cup appearances.
The team plays its home games at the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montréal, an outdoor stadium that seats 25 200. Their colours are silver, blue and red.
Author WILLIAM HUMBER
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