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New role with Stamps a second dream come true for Jay McNeil

Jay McNeil played his entire 14-year CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders.

From 1994 to 2007, he was a fixture on the offensive line and helped the Stamps win a pair of Grey Cups — the first in 1998 and the second in 2001.

This week, the 52-year-old returned to the organization —- this time in a business suit.

McNeil started his new job as the Stamps' vice-president of business operations on Tuesday and says it was an amazing experience.

"I'm not going to lie. It was a little weird walking up into the office, but I also had goosebumps going in. It was a pretty incredible feeling," McNeil said.

"I had a tour of the facility and I was in places I'd never been before. That was a pretty incredible experience and several times I had goosebumps and was thinking about what's ahead of me."


After retiring from football in 2007, McNeil worked in the oil sector and has extensive business and sales experience.

He says returning to the Stampeders was something he just couldn't pass up.

"They gave me an opportunity back in 1994 and I've had a great life since then," McNeil said.

"Having the ability to come back and work with the team again, work with the Calgary Flames and Calgary Sports and Entertainment, it really is a second dream come true."


McNeil knows he has a lot of work ahead of him and among his top priorities is to get more fans in seats.

Through seven games this season, the average attendance at McMahon stadium has been 23,622.

McNeil says that needs to improve and that it's time to get the younger generation back to the stadium to watch games.

"When you look in the stands, it's predominantly people my age and above," McNeil said.

"We do have to re-engage those younger fans. (Tuesday) was my first day and that was something we talked about all afternoon, and so it's high on our radar and that's one of the plans moving forward."


One of the biggest complaints from fans and even the league is the stadium — McMahon is old and many say it's time for a new place to play.

McNeil understands the frustration.

"Absolutely, it's a challenge," McNeil said.

"I've been a fan for 15 years and have experienced the good and the bad over that time. Certainly, that is the No. 1 comment I've received. Actually, second to well-wishes when this job was announced, but the next comment usually is, ‘When are we getting a new stadium?’"

McNeil says all possible solutions are being looked at because eventually, a new stadium is something that has to happen.

The Stamps have two home games left in the regular season.

They're at home to the Hamilton Tiger Cats on Oct. 14 and close out the season at home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Oct. 29.


The Stamps have signed receiver Malik Henry to a three-year contract extension and linebacker Jameer Thurman was voted as one of the top performers in the CFL for September. Top Stories

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