Former Lions' GM Capozzi dies at age 86

Herb Capozzi, a former general manager with the B.C. Lions for a club-record nine years, died at his home in Vancouver on Monday. He was 86.

The man who played an instrumental role in the development of several major league sports teams in B.C. has died.

A news release from the B.C. Lions football club says former general manager Herb Capozzi died Monday at his Vancouver home at the age of 86.

Capozzi helped dig the Lions out of three losing seasons when he took the helm in 1957, building the team into a Grey Cup powerhouse that advanced to the final in 1963 and took the top prize in 1964.

He helped guide the Lions to a Grey Cup appearance in 1963 and to a victory in the championship game the following year in '64.   

Capozzi brought in players such as Willie Fleming and Joe Kapp before giving up the reins in 1966 when the Kelowna native was elected to his first of two terms in the B.C. legislature. His business credits include co-founding The Keg restaurant chain, serving as vice-president of Calona Wines and sitting as a director of Expo 86.

Capozzi also arranged a deal in the early 1970s that ensured the then-troubled Vancouver Canucks hockey franchise remained in Vancouver and he was instrumental in bringing the Whitecaps soccer team to the city, also in the early 70s. The Order of British Columbia recipient also received many sports honours over his lifetime, including induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

The Lions will play for the 99th Grey Cup championship on Sunday at B.C Place Stadium against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3:30 p.m. PT).