Ambrosie’s hiring was formally announced at a morning news conference Wednesday in downtown Toronto.
He replaces Jeffrey Orridge, who stepped down as commissioner last month after about two years on the job. Board chairman Jim Lawson had been serving as interim commissioner since Orridge’s departure.
Ambrosie inherits a league facing key issues, including lacklustre fan support in Toronto and aging facilities in Calgary. He said he wants to take a team-by-team approach to identifying problems the league can help solve.
“I want to help each team work on the things that are absolutely important to them,” Ambrosie said. “The teams are our clients, we have to find a way to support them. In Calgary it might be working with them on the stadium, in other communities it will be other challenges.
“I would like very much to lead a team of very committed people that are going to work with the teams that will help them on the issues that are most important to them.
The issue with the Argonauts, once one of the league’s cornerstone franchises, has long been dwindling attendance. The club drew just 11,219 fans to its 28-13 home loss to the B.C. Lions on Friday night, its lowest attendance since relocating to BMO Field to start last season.
This was after 13,583 fans attended Toronto’s 32-15 season-opening win there over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on June 25.
Ambrosie, who was a finalist for the commissioner’s position when Orridge was hired, played nine CFL seasons as an offensive lineman with Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton, winning a Grey Cup his final season with the Eskimos in 1993.
The 54-year-old Winnipeg native also served with the CFL Players’ Association during his playing days.
Upon retiring from football, Ambrosie became the North American head of sales at HSBC Securities. In 2004, he joined AGF Management Ltd. as its head of sales and marketing and two years later was appointed president of AGF Funds Inc.
After serving as president and CEO of Accretive 360 Inc. (2010-2012), Ambrosie joined MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier — then Canada’s oldest investment firm — as president and CEO.