Brett Bouchy, a member of the Orlando Predators’ front office for most of the past 17 years, has stepped down as managing partner of the Arena Football League team.
In a move approved Thursday by the league’s board of directors, Bouchy sold his interest in the franchise to Pearsall Holdings, LP. David Pearsall, a former minority owner, will replace him as managing partner and become majority owner.
“Dave has been a great partner of mine,’’ Bouchy said. “There are some other endeavors of mine that will probably become public in the next few weeks. This was the right time for me.
“I hope everybody knows that I worked as hard as I could to put the best product on the field and off the field. The entertainment value we brought to the team is incredible.’’
For much of Bouchy’s run with the Preds, which began in 1996, Orlando was one of the AFL’s marquee franchises. The Preds won the ArenaBowl in 1998 and 2000, and they made the playoffs for a record 19 years in a row, including seven division titles.
That postseason streak ended last season. The Preds (6-10) can clinch a playoff berth Saturday night with a victory in Cleveland, combined with a loss by the New Orleans VooDoo to the Jacksonville Sharks.
“I know it’s like losing a child for Brett,” Preds chief operating officer Darrell Harbin said. “It was very emotional for him the last few days and I know he’s probably having a hard time with it, but he supports the ownership group.”
Said ArenaFan.com writer Adam Markowitz, who is based in Orlando and originally reported the ownership change: “[Bouchy] was a creative owner who found ways to give the Predators the best edge possible. The team, up to the past few years, was always competing for championships, and that’s something that can never be taken away.”
While saying Bouchy’s departure was not because of a lawsuit filed by the City of Orlando against the team over naming rights at Amway Center, Harbin did not consider the timing odd. The Preds have two games left in the regular season, and Orlando is preparing to host the ArenaBowl on Aug. 17 at Amway Center.
“The reason why timing really didn’t matter is, it doesn’t change anything,’’ Harbin said. “The ownership, the controlling partner is changing, but that’s it. Everything else stays status quo.’’
Pearsall could not be reached for comment.
As for Bouchy, he played a large role in bringing the league back and restructuring its finances after it ceased operations for the 2009 season.
“He cared for me since I got here, so I have only good things to say about him,” said longtime Preds defensive back Kenny McEntyre, who retired after last season. “He rubbed some people wrong, but at the end of the day, you can’t make everyone happy.
“It hurt him to his core when the league folded in 2009. He was probably hurt more than the players. I don’t think it had anything to do with money. He loved this game.”
Bouchy said he still does.
“I’m so excited about watching the game on TV this weekend, stress free,’’ he said. “I’ll be the biggest Predators fan ever.”