Halifax group makes pitch for CFL franchise

The CFL said Thursday it has had talks with a group looking to secure an expansion franchise for Halifax.

“We can confirm the CFL has had discussions with a group interested in securing a Canadian Football League franchise for the city of Halifax,” the league said in a statement. “While this group has been professional, enthusiastic and impressive, these conversations are relatively new and a very thorough process of due diligence must be put in place and completed before we can fully assess the viability of the project.

“We want to publicly thank this group for its passion for the CFL and we thank the members of the media for their interest.”

A league official said a timetable for potentially awarding a franchise has not been established as of yet. One of the challenges for Halifax is that the city does not currently have a stadium that would be suitable for a CFL team.

TSN reported Thursday the group made a presentation to the league’s board of governors several weeks ago in Toronto. The report also identified Anthony LeBlanc, a former president and CEO of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, as a partner in the group.

A franchise in the Maritimes would certainly be a positive development for the CFL. Not only would it give the league a coast-to-coast reach but it would also allow it to form two five-team divisions.

The CFL awarded a conditional franchise to Halifax in 1982 – it was named the Atlantic Schooners – but financing for a stadium never came about. The league played regular-season games in Moncton, N.B., in 2010, 2011 and ’13.

The biggest barrier to adding a team in Eastern Canada has been finding a suitable facility in a big enough market. With a population of over 400,000, Halifax is big enough but also lacks a CFL-calibre stadium. The local university team at St. Mary’s plays in a facility with just 4,000 permanent seats (expandable to 11,000) and that clearly won’t do it.

In June Halifax city councillors voted to approve a pop-up stadium at a downtown municipal sports field as part of a bid to earn a team in the Canadian Premier League. That league, spearheaded by Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young and CEO Scott Mitchell, also has franchises in Hamilton and in Winnipeg owned by CFL clubs and is set to launch in either 2018 or 2019. While the stadium would seat just 7,000 people, the arrival of professional soccer in Halifax could be the first step to a bigger facility – one that could accommodate a CFL team.

– CP

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58 Comments on Halifax group makes pitch for CFL franchise

  1. Blackhawk89 // November 16, 2017 at 5:45 pm //

    Fake news till there’s shovels in the ground for a real stadium.

    • How is an expression of interest fake news? Nothing has been committed yet to the project. Very, very early in the process, but nice to see the interest.

  2. Lancaster/Reed // November 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm //

    This would be fantastic! It wont fix the parity issue between the west and east; it might make it even worse; but it would still be a positive for the league. Maybe they could partner with St Marys for a new stadium (not that st marys could afford a lot, but a little $ can still help.)

    • NO it won’t be fantastic, it football is failing in Toronto with 10 million people in the area, it’s certainly not going to catch on in Halifax.
      Let these so-called “investors” build the stadium and then try to sell tickets.
      The city should not be involved with this.
      They are already behind the small soccer stadium that the “Halifax Wanderers” have pushed for.
      Where is the support for the CFL in Halifax?
      I don’t see a fan group similar to what happened in Ottawa where 10k fans put down $50 deposits for season tickets back a couple of years after the Renegades folded.

  3. David Carswell // November 16, 2017 at 5:52 pm //

    I still think that having a team based in Moncton would make more sense (proximity to a bigger fan base including not only Halifax, but Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Charlottetown all within 3 hours) but just the idea of an East Coast team is a major step forward….

    • No, it’s not going to happen.
      Let these investors take the risk, let them build the stadium like they did in Ottawa.
      Let them go out and sign up deposits for season tickets.
      I doubt the people of Halifax are interested at all in the CFL.

  4. I believe that the schooners could sell 15,000 season tickets are a three plan like the Winnipeg jets did. Those that love the CFL will more than back this team. I would hire Ed Hervey as the gm they would be in the playoffs in 2 years. They would rival the Riders in fan support. Go schooners Go

    • Lancaster/Reed // November 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm //

      Its great that the “Schooners” have a site/bar at grey cup festivities.

    • Really? if they can’t sell 5,000 season tickets in Toronto with 10 million people that live within 100km of BMO, they certainly won’t sell 15k season tickets in an area the size of Halifax!!
      At least Toronto has over 100 years of football tradition, Halifax has zero.
      How could they rival the Riders??? the Riders have many many years of football tradition.
      That is just ridiculous.
      If you want to judge support then do what the Halifax Wanderers soccer team did, sign up people that are interested in pro-soccer in the city.
      There has been no attempt by any CFL supporters group to bring the CFL to Halifax, zero ground swell

      • Jim….how can you be so negative????Thank goodness some forward thinking people from Halifax think differently.Time for Oland’s and the Irvings to step up and build a stadium.

  5. BigRedMachine // November 16, 2017 at 6:08 pm //

    A GC in Halifax would be amazing…

  6. I’m liking the sound of this. Let’s go Schooners.

  7. antoine lussier // November 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm //

    why not name the team for the region-the Maritime somethings–that would encompass the region and be representative of a greater area and population how about the MARITIME SQUID JIGGERS OR MARITIME CRABS—-HEY WE ONCE HAD 2 TEAMS NAMED ROUGHRIDERS/ROUGH RIDERS. we even have a team named after horses.what a league

    • Details Details // November 16, 2017 at 7:02 pm //

      How does the name “Atlantic Schooners” not address what you are requesting?
      ???

      • antoine lussier // November 16, 2017 at 10:31 pm //

        the schooner applied only to nova scotia and not to the maritimes as a whole.

        • bluenose applies to a schooner that was built in nova scotia. a schooner is a type of sailing boat no matter where it is.

          I think its a great name, hopefully they don’t capitalize the name like #REDBLACKS

    • Billinburlington // November 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm //

      Name them the Atlantic Argonots. That way we have a return to two teams with the same sounding name. As well my Ticats can clobber another Argo team when they meet. Or base them in ‘Brunswick and name them the Black Reds. Or
      Lunenburg and name them the lunenburg Loggers.

      • antoine lussier // November 16, 2017 at 9:21 pm //

        or name the team after one of the goofy NEWFOUNDLAND place names like :the DILDOS after DILDO NFLD or the COME BY CHANCERS after COME BY CHANCE

    • It’s all redundant because it will NEVER happen.
      Football is just no popular in Halifax, they can’t fill the Civic Centre for hockey!!
      The city will NEVER fund a stadium and I doubt any investor would fund it either.

      At least in Ottawa the investors were rich real estate people and took on the risk and funded the stadium re-build by getting their money back on selling condos and bars/restaurants and commercial outlets at the stadium.

      • Mr Commissioner…better call off the meetings with the Halifax group and drop the idea of a CFL franchise forever.Why?
        Because “Jim” (whoever he is) has assured us all already that it will NEVER happen. Gee…thanks Jim for straightening out those Halifax goobers.

  8. Lennywasout // November 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm //

    They’ll get a GC before Hamilton will. Sad state

    • Is that they’ll host a Grey Cup game before Hamilton or win a Grey Cup before Hamilton? Both are a probability, especially hosting a game.

      • Dan Bombers // November 16, 2017 at 8:54 pm //

        As long as they don’t win the grey cup before the Bombers !’! Seriously though this would be great for our league

    • Halifax will NEVER get a team so you are saying that Hamilton will never get a GC?

  9. @lennywasout that’s because the idiots who run the city are a sad state.

  10. This would be amazing for the CFL. Truly a coast to coast league and a CANDIAN league for us to call our own. I hate what has happened to the NHL so I spend my money on the CFl. Great fans and reasonable ticket prices. My kids love the games and can actually meet and talk to players who aren’t all millionaires. Go CFL!

    • You actually believe that Halifax will get a team??
      It’s not going to happen.

      As for CANADIAN? you seem to forget that the majority of our players are Americans.
      The Toronto Argos have more American players than the Blue Jays, TFC and Raptors combined !!!
      So much for a “Canadian” league.
      If Halifax ever did get a franchise they would have to reduce the Canadian content because the CFL is having problems recruiting enough Canadian talent for 9 teams.

  11. Anything is possible, but I run into a lot of Maritimes and none of them care for the sport. Hockey and some Blue Jays seems to be their limit.

    • Dave – you hit the nail on the head. There is very little support for the CFL in the Maritimes.
      Don’t expect a “build it and they will come”, if some investors want to come in and invest in a new stadium and then go out and try to sign up season ticket holders then that’s fair enough.
      But it’s not going to happen.

  12. Red&White Forever // November 16, 2017 at 8:55 pm //

    10 teams, balanced divisions, a balanced schedule, and an extra game (5 instead of 4) most weekends. What’s not to like about this? I hope it happens, another team would be great. Especially in the Maritimes.

    • all great points. 10 teams would be perfect. can you imagine the traveling time adjustments though? Vancouver to halifax is like flying from Saskatoon to Venezuela lol. an 8pm game in Vancouver would be a 1 am game time for halifax. i didn’t actually look up how far away Venezuela is or what the time change is but I am sure someone will correct me!

      GO CFL!!

    • Wouldn’t 8 teams be the same?
      With a failing Toronto franchise it’s just a matter of time. Why even think about another place where the CFL would be sure to fail.

  13. Ticat Mike // November 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm //

    I have long felt that Halifax would make a terrific CFL city. It’s beautiful, large enough in population (local and regional), should be able to attract big corporate Maritime sponsor and capital, has a great football tradition & would be an attractive place for players to want to live in. NOw, government and potential ownership have to pony up the stadium money (or just government — right Bob Young???). I would love to see it happen for all the reasons cited in the article.

    • Do you think Toronto would be a good CFL city?
      10 million people that live within 100km of BMO stadium, a very nice stadium, very rich population.
      Why are they struggling with attendance.
      Halifax is NOT going to happen.
      Let these investors build and fund the stadium, leave taxpayers out of it like they did in Ottawa.
      Where is the ground-swell of CFL support in Halifax?

      • Why are the Argos struggling with attendance. Because of the NFL franchise. Oh wait, the NFL hasn’t granted a franchise to the “sure thing”. Just hilarious. Toronto waits and waits for something that will never arrive. The sweet sweet irony.

  14. Footballnut // November 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm //

    Do it god damn it ! A tenth team is good ! The maritimes are out of the game right now . 400 k city and the biggest show around – a no brainer for success imo

    • A no brainer?? LOL
      just like Toronto? 10 MILLION people live within 100km of BMO stadium but very few are interested.
      Halifax has ZERO interest in the CFL.
      Halifax lost their AHL hockey team because of lack of interest and it’s a hockey town.
      They would NEVER be able to attract 20k on a regular basis, and you need at least 20k with a $80 average plus the private suites and club seats.
      No corporate sector in Halifax, the biggest employer is the military and the shipbuilding which isn’t exactly stable employment.
      It’s a no-go

  15. I love cfl football I am on this site everyday sometimes more then once. I live in Moncton new Brunswick that said a team will NEVER work in the maritimes not enough people!!!!

    • Joe, Regina has 250,000 ish people. Saskatoon is 2:15 away with 275,000 ish. about 80% of games sell out. My season ticket neighbours come down a few times a year from frickin Lethbridge AB, which i think is over 5 hours away. I think you maritimers can make it work becauase youre as crazy as us saskatchewanians!

      • There is no relation to the Sask situation.
        Football has been around for generations in Sask and years of strong tradition.
        Just like the Green Bay Packers where there are only 120k people that live within 100km of Lambeau and people come from all over, it’s tradition and pride. They love football. That would never happen in the Maritimes.

        Joe is right, there is no interest in the CFL in Nova Scotia or NB.
        Look at the lack of CFL interest in Toronto with 10 million people. It’s certainly not going to happen in Halifax

  16. greenonions // November 16, 2017 at 9:57 pm //

    Great news. A 10 team league would be perfect.

    • What great news??
      They are investigating the possibility. It’s not going to happen, ZERO interest in football in the area

      • What is wrong with you?
        Apart from Horsie, I have never seen such negativity.
        Just be happy they are trying.
        It has been a long haul for the Schooners group.
        Let’s hop it works.

  17. antoine lussier // November 16, 2017 at 10:28 pm //

    here is a area of the country with a bilingual history that would rival Montreal and Ottawa on linguistic bragging rights–as well the SACKVILLE NEW BRUNSWICK MOUNTIES should have their football name on the new team. unfortunately what some of the MOUNTIES are alleged to have done of late, the term MOUNTIES(MOUNTED) MIGHT BE A MISNOMER.

    • Bilingual history???
      seriously? I don’t know many people in Nova Scotia that are bilingual.
      Ottawa is only 20% French.
      Canada gets LESS bilingual every year.
      Don’t know what that has to do with the CFL

  18. Lancaster/Reed // November 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm //

    If and when this happens, using the same expansion draft they used for ottawa would probably be best. Give the new team a fighting chance to be competitive right out of the gate.

  19. Blackhawk89 // November 17, 2017 at 12:00 am //

    Who’s gonna pay for a stadium?… I’ll gaurantee this supposed ownership group has no intention of contributing a dime.

    • Agreed!! it this ownership group is serious then they should fund it. Just like OSEG did in Ottawa, come up with a plan to fund the stadium and work with the city to sell off and lease the stadium land for commercial development.
      Canvass for season ticket deposits ect.
      Do NOT rely on government to fund this dream

  20. Taras Kachkowski // November 17, 2017 at 12:24 am //

    Needs to be the “Atlantic” or the “Maritime” whatevers to have a chance at success. As I have been told from people who have lived there, Maritimer’s sense of geography is very constricted compared to us out West. If you call it the Halifax whatever, then people from St John, or Moncton, or even Dartmouth won’t come to the game, because that’s Halifax’s team, not “my” team. Unlike us in Saskatchewan that think nothing of driving 4.5 hours to watch a 3 hour game, then drive 4.5 hours back to sleep on our own beds that night, a Maritimer thinks an hour’s drive one way is an insanely long trip. But the team will need people from up to 5 hours away to come to at least a game or 2 a year, for the team to be viable, just like the Riders here in Saskatchewan.

    • Why even discuss names etc when this will NEVER happen.
      This is a pipe-dream. These so-called investors want the city/province to put up a couple of hundred million for a stadium.
      They haven’t even gone to the people yet to see if there is a ground-swell of support like they did in Ottawa, sell deposits.

  21. C’mon guys – all sounds nice
    BUT
    Where is the cash coming from ? You can’t keep taking money from the West for subsidies – even in the CFL

    Sobeys needs to step up and get this going , they are a Good Canadian and respected national company

    • Sobeys is out to make money not lose it, why would they every invest in the CFL or a stadium?
      The biggest employer is the military even the shipbuilding depends on government orders

      They will do fine with their soccer franchise in Halifax but there is no way that over 20k fans would pay $80 a ticket to attend a CFL game.

      • Why so frikken negative!! I can’t tell if you r a CFL fan or not but it looks like you took this personally.

        • Jim is a disappointed Toronto NFL fan. Even they are realizing the NFL will never arrive and are very bitter!!!

  22. To Jim pull your head out of your ____ CFL Football is a working man game with working man ticket prices. In Sask I drive 8 hrs one way to watch my riders. Win or lose we travel to every city in the league. Jim ask Mike Babcock why small city people back the CFL because they work for a living.

  23. Trent Bruner // November 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm //

    It would be very wise to get the 10th team into Halifax as soon as possible. The Maritimes are an untapped sports market and it would definitely drive up viewership and interest nationwide. The regional name would be wise to keep to have regional interest, and yes, the name of the team should be The Atlantic Schooners. Forget about the negativity shown on this blog and others…Suppport the CFL and make it major league!

  24. Maybe Mr. Irving might want to get involved with team – he could probably use a tax deduction.
    The negativity is astounding – it may be a dream – but dreams do come true and this would be a wonderful thing for the CFL.
    I believe there is a lot of really good Canadian ball players out there that get overlooked simply because they are Canadian (quarterbacks eh!!).

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