February 12, 1938 |
Vancouver, British Columbia
|Alma mater||University of British Columbia
California Institute of Technology
|Occupation||Businessman, Sports Franchise Owner, Engineer|
Nelson M. Skalbania (born February 12, 1938) is a former businessman from Vancouver, British Columbia best known for signing 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky to the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association.
In 1961, Skalbania graduated from University of British Columbia with a bachelor's degree in applied science, then received his Professional Engineering certification in 1962. He received a master's degree in civil engineering in 1964 at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (specializing in seismic engineering).
His initial profession as a consulting engineer in the early 1960s expanded into an extensive real estate career in parallel with the consulting business.
In December 1998, Nelson Skalbania was put in jail for a 12-month sentence for theft. Skalbania illegally used money from an investor to cover debts in his real estate firm. 
President and majority owner of McKenzie Snowball & Skalbania, consulting engineers. Started in 1964, there were over 100 employees in four locations in structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering consulting. Skalbania closed the practice in 1981 shortly before declaring bankruptcy.
Real estate and Services Transactions
Skalbania was active in flipping real estate, primarily in the US and Canada. Some assets included:
- Bought and resold property from Genstar and 31 different Eaton's properties/stores across Canada
- Bought and resold Omni Complex in Atlanta, Georgia, Circus World in Orlando, and Opera Square, San Francisco
- Bought and resold Watergate Apartments Oakland, California.
- Restaurants including Malibu, Beach House, Horse & Carriage Inns
- Hotels including Rembrandt, Georgia, Devonshire, Wedgewood
- Long Distance Telephone Marketing Co. (AT+E) based in Phoenix,
- American Warranty Inc,
- Golf Courses including Meadow Gardens, Carnoustie
Skalbania bought and sold or folded several sports teams, notably:
- bought the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA from Charles Allard in 1973. sold to Peter Pocklington in 1977.
- bought the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA from Harold Ducote in 1977. The Racers folded on December 15, 1978.
- bought the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League from Sam Berger in 1981. The team became the Concordes and then folded. Fans were infuriated by his remarks "It's not like I raped a nun."
- bought and sold the Memphis Rogues of the North American Soccer League, which became the Calgary Boomers.
- bought and sold the Vancouver Canadians baseball team.
- bought the BC Lions of the CFL in 1996, but was forced into receivership.
- Part of a consortium that picked up and moved the Atlanta Flames, which became the Calgary Flames.
- Partial ownership of Vancouver Whitecaps from 1980-1989
Bankruptcy and decline
After a series of bad deals Skalbania filed a bankruptcy proposal in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 16, 1982. It called for his 125 unsecured creditors to allow him five years to repay $30.3 million in debts. Due to high interest rates, a depressed real-estate market and millions lost on sports ventures Skalbania subsequently defaulted. In December 1998, Nelson Skalbania was given a 12-month sentence for illegally using money from an investor to cover debts in his real estate firm.
- CBC News, "Skalbania in Jail", CBC News Business (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/1998/12/11/skalbania981211.html), December 11, 1998