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).
Skalbania started as a consulting engineer in the early 1960s before expanding into property and sports team flipping. This all ended in bankruptcy in 1982.
Skalbania was put in jail in 1998 for a 12-month sentence for theft.
President and majority owner of McKenzie Snowball & Skalbania, consulting engineers. Started in 1964. By 1971 there were over 100 employees in four locations in structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering consulting, This ended in 1981.
Real estate transactions
Skalbania was active in flipping real estate, primarily in the US and Canada. Some highlights include:
- 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.
Skalbania bought and sold or folded several sports teams, notably:
- bought the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA from Charles Allard in 1975. 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 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 after six months.
Bankruptcy and decline
On December 16, 1982 Skalbania filed a bankruptcy proposal in Vancouver, British Columbia that 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 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. 
- CBC News, "Skalbania in Jail", CBC News Business (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/1998/12/11/skalbania981211.html), December 11, 1998