Former Calgary football star and businessman John Forzani has died in a California hospital, his family confirms.

Forzani, 67, was an offensive lineman with the Calgary Stampeders for seven years.

Forzani had been on life-support at the hospital in Palm Springs, Calif., after suffering either a massive stroke or heart attack.

He opened the Forzani Locker Room in 1974 and later acquired the Sport Chek chain. The Forzani Group grew to become Canada's largest sports retail business before it was sold to Canadian Tire.

Forzani stepped down from his role with the company in 2006.


Former Calgary Stampeders player and businessman John Forzani has died in a hospital in California. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Joe Forzani told CBC News his brother passed away around midnight on Thursday.

Calgary Stampeders chairman Ken King issued a statement expressing condolences from the club.

"John's passion for community and football were singularly essential in the revival of the Stamps' important role in the community," said King. "It is one, among many, of his great legacies. I will miss him dearly."

Forzani was part of a group of investors that bought the Stampeders in 2005. When the Calgary Flames became majority owners in 2012, Forzani retained a minority interest and was the team's co-chair until last year.

"I'm very saddened by John's passing," said Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel. "He was a teammate, a friend and a hunting buddy."

Forzani was a graduate of Calgary's St. Francis High School. He played college football at Utah State while earning a business degree.

Forzani played six seasons with the Stampeders from 1971 to 1976. His brothers Tom and Joe also played for the team, as did his nephew Johnny from 2010 to 2012.

The Forzani Group has raised millions of dollars for charitable causes. In 2000, he also formed the Forzani Foundation, which has a mandate to promote physical fitness, health and wellness.