Councillors react to Halifax stadium poll and possible taxpayer involvement

Taryn Grant, StarMetro Halifax

HALIFAX — A game plan based on throwing tax money directly at an outdoor stadium won’t win, say some municipal councillors.

“If it means increasing your taxes, I’m not interested in doing that,” said District 6 councillor Tony Mancini in an interview. “If it means some tax breaks, if it means us doing some infrastructure work, I’m interested in that.”

A StarMetro exclusive poll revealed split opinions on using municipal taxes, directly or through tax breaks, to pay for a football stadium for a possible CFL franchise for Halifax.

Forty-two per cent of those polled said they were very favourable or favourable to using taxpayer money to build a stadium, while 41 per cent were unfavourable or very unfavourable. Fifteen per cent were neither unfavourable nor favourable, and 2 per cent were unsure.

Rick Emberley of MQO Research, which conducted the poll for StarMetro, was surprised by the split opinion.

“I honestly thought it would be a much lower level of interest,” he earlier told StarMetro.

Mancini also expected more opposition.

“My gut feeling would have been stronger numbers against using taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Mancini thinks municipal involvement will be worthwhile if plans include more than just a stadium. He referred to Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, which includes the 24,000-seat TD Place, home of the Ottawa Redblacks, as well as shops, restaurants, green spaces and courtyards.

“That Lansdowne approach interests me or excites me for Shannon Park because it may help to address some of our challenges when it comes to transportation,” said Mancini, whose district includes the Shannon Park area. “Expanding our transportation, metro transit, possibly even a third ferry coming into that area.”

Shannon Park was the most desired location in StarMetro’s poll, followed by Dartmouth Crossing. Unlike Lansdowne, which is owned by the City of Ottawa, Shannon Park is not owned by HRM.

“The challenge with Shannon Park,” said Coun. Sam Austin in an interview, “is we’ve just gone through a whole planning process to redevelop that as a mixed-use neighbourhood. And it’s owned by Canada Lands, so I’m not sure that that’ll come to pass.”

Austin, District 5, and fellow councillor Tim Outhit, District 16, both said the poll was consistent with what they’ve been hearing from residents.

“I’ve heard from people who are vehemently against and people who are really in support. So it rather fits what’s been coming in to me,” said Austin.

Outhit added that it’s hard to come down on either side, since council hasn’t received an official ask from potential franchisees.

“What I hear from people is they may get the vision of the stadium, but the devil will be in the details,” Outhit said.

Last year, council heard from a private group interested in bringing a CFL team to the Atlantic region. The session was closed to the public, but Mancini said the group shared “their intention” without proposing a business plan or making an official bid for municipal dollars.

Council still doesn’t have a proposal, said Austin, but for him: “It would have to be a pretty darn good deal for me to see putting municipal money into it. This has to be something that the private sector leads.”

One person in support of an outdoor stadium in Halifax is Saint Mary’s Huskies football coach James Colzie III.

He believes a stadium and CFL team would be a great fit.

“It’s not just support for football, it is support for the city,” he said in an interview Monday.

Colzie hopes the Huskies would be able to use a stadium, should one ever get built, but knows there would be some red tape in terms of working out a partnership.

“Obviously when you build a stadium you want to sell it out,” he said. “You bring in CFL fans and hopefully that leads to some new fans for the Huskies.” – with files from Tony Davis

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25 Comments on Councillors react to Halifax stadium poll and possible taxpayer involvement

  1. A Civic or Municipal Stadium can be used not only for football – but for many other activities.

    A Halifaxian posted on 3downation of all the regional football and soccer teams in the surrounding area – maybe a game of baseball
    If a stadium was to be built in Halifax with a percentage of tax payers money , the stadium would be well used and it would also create that extra ‘atmosphere’ !!

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 6:47 am //

      No it woudn’t be well used at all in Halifax.
      It’s the same in Hamilton, it’s used for the Ticats only and little else.
      Most football stadiums are NOT used for many other activities and they can only be used from May to Sept because of the weather.
      Halifax is too small for a MLS stadium and an MLS team. Rock concerts are held at smaller venues, very few concerts are held outdoors in football stadiums.
      Big concerts are held at the 10k seat metro centre which is more than big enough for most concerts.
      A CFL stadium in Halifax would be a white elephant.

  2. Would like to hear from some folks from the East coast and see what their thoughts are ?

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 6:55 am //

      Read my comments above.
      The region just opened the $400 MILLION Convention Centre, it was built with office/commercial space and only 30% leased!! They have a lot of conventions booked for the next year but going to take a long time to make money.
      A few councillors may be interested but in reality there is no way that taxpayers dollars will go towards another mega-project like a football stadium.

      If the private investors want to put a proposal together then it’s their risk. I don’t think they will because a CFL only stadium in Halifax is too risky. The Wanderers soccer group is active and vocal and managed to get approval for a new stadium on the common but their proposal was all about private funding.

  3. Doug Mc Clintock // April 16, 2018 at 2:10 pm //

    A multi use of a stadium is a must to include lots of sports. How much does it cost to run a CFL team ? The BMO field in Toronto has soccer as well as the Argos. This field will seat around the 30.000 mark If not Halifax, where ?
    It would take a lot of money for this project but there is nothing wrong in giving good vibes about it !

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 7:04 am //

      BMO Field in Toronto works because of the MLS SOCCER team, not football. MLSE wouldn’t own the Argos if they didn’t have TFC.
      TFC can play over 20 home games plus the international “friendly” games.
      There is no way that any taxpayers funds will go towards a football stadium in Halifax.

  4. I see far more reasons to build a stadium here in Halifax then reasons not to at this point,the reasons not to seem to be (taxpayers money). Facts are there is nothing keeping new graduates here in the province, give them a stadium with abilities to hold sporting events, concerts or the many other things that can be built inside the same venue and it can be used to recruit workers. If Halifax does want to grow and someday be a hub this is just another step they need to take.

    I would personally love it if my tax dollars went to this project, this city and province have spent a lot of it on things that do not benefit me or be aligned with my interests.

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 7:29 am //

      Dave – You see “far more reasons to build a stadium in Halifax” ???
      where are the reasons?
      A stadium is NOT needed for concerts, the Metro Centre is adequate for that. Most artists attract crowds of around 10k which can be accommodated easily at the Metro Centre, if the demand for a major artist is greater than 10k they hold two concerts back to back.
      A stadium would be used only from May to Sept.
      How can stadium be used to recruit workers????
      A football stadium will do nothing to keep new graduates in the province.
      The new Convention Centre will do more for the economy than a football stadium. A 24k football stadium will do nothing for the region and would be a white elephant.
      THF in Hamilton is underused and hasn’t transformed that area of Hamilton.
      The new privately funded soccer stadium will accommodate the potential CPL soccer team and that is the size of stadium that is needed for Halifax 5k to 10k. There is no way that the council will turn around use taxpayers funds for a football stadium after telling the soccer group that no funds are available.

      • Joe, let’s start this off by saying my name is dave, not Dave. Lowercase next time please.

        When it came to Amazon choosing their next HQ one of the things they looked at was Entertainment, it’s easier to recruit staff to your area with more entertainment. A stadium falls under that category. No matter what it is used for. Maybe your right tho, when all the recent graduates and future graduates leave the provide for greener pastures and there is a flow of people retiring we will be fine.

        Your right tho, having a convention center with 30% capacity and no one even remotely close to taking control of the hotel(which was built wrong to begin with) is doing more for our ecocomy. Hell it gave our workers an extra 2 years work.

        Also I wanted to add that your use of question marks amuses me, but it doesn’t help get your point across.

  5. Tailgate YYC // April 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm //

    With reading these posts, I now see how Trudeau got voted in. Wow. The thinking is so closed minded and assuming.
    You are all whining about your poor tax dollars as if they are actually spent appropriately in the first place.

  6. Rider fan // April 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm //

    If a stadium is to be built don’t make the same mistake that we made here in sask. Make it a domed building. A four season facility. Then it could be used to its potential.

  7. mr mancini, when was the last time a politician didn’t raise taxes? when was the last time a politician didn’t waste taxpayer money? when was the last time a politician told the truth about anything? and mr mancini, get off your high horse and make something work instead of pretending to care about whether you raise taxes or not!

  8. Edward Leslie // April 16, 2018 at 5:27 pm //

    waveman: Exactly, they will waste tax dollars either way. At least this way, they end up with a kick ass stadium that can be used for a new CFL team and a Canadian Premier League Soccer club. Concerts and other events can be held in it too. Plus this would help Halifax bid for future big events such as the Commonwealth games, Pan Am games as well as the Grey Cup and Vanier Cup.
    It could spur a business a lucrative area with a hotel, condos, office buildings and parks too.
    Most people are so predictable thinking small and not looking at the big picture.

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 7:36 am //

      Edward – the CPL team will play at the new Wanderer Stadium being built on the Common.
      Concerts can be held at the Metro Centre.
      Big events are held at the new $400 MILLION Convention Centre. The new Conventions centre downtown is supposed to “spur business” with the retail/commercial space that is being leased out.
      Conventions will attract more visitors in one week than a CFL stadium ever would and the football stadium can only be used May to Sept. Booking a major Convention for one week will bring in more money than a weekend Grey Cup.
      Halifax doesn’t need to bid for a Commonwealth Games they are expensive and not worth the bid.
      Yes we are looking at the big picture!!! it’s not needed

  9. Robert Shmigelsky // April 16, 2018 at 5:31 pm //

    The CFL should definitely pay for at least some of it as the league would benefit from having a tenth team.

    • But where would the CFL get the money from?
      Most of the CFL funding is used to run their Toronto offices and staff and that comes from the TV contract and a portion of the Grey Cup revenue.
      Toronto, Montreal and BC all declining attendance a 10 franchise would be another problem.
      It’s likely that we will be back to 8 teams in the not too distance future.

  10. Doug Mc Clintock // April 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm //

    Someone mentioned a domed building – 350 million versus 150 million for regular stadium ! Hey BC Place & Toronto has one, why not Halifax !

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 7:43 am //

      lol – yea that’s funny, most North American cities have ditched their football domed stadiums.
      But if a private group wants to build one then go ahead but don’t let taxpayers fund it

  11. I’m proud that Saskatchewan and in particular Regina built mosaic. I’m more than happy to pay a ticket tax to sit in the fantastic facility a few times a year and yes pay taxes for something that brings this community and province together. Non of this bah humbug what’s in it for me. I love the atmosphere of the whole place rallying together as one. I’m proud we have a can do attitude here. Get it together east coasters life isn’t easy here either but ti see us come together for any event is amazing. Dave a get a grip man politicians have been and will continue to waste your money regardless of what’s being built. Fact. Happens everywhere. At least with grey cups and events ..sports in general brings the whole area together. Doesn’t even have to be a jewel like mosaic. Spend 150 mil. Just get it done and have something to enjoy instead of complaining about everything. Life must be so enjoyable for you 🙂

  12. Edward Leslie // April 16, 2018 at 8:04 pm //

    Well said, Boo Eskimos. A breath of fresh air and common sense that was needed after reading the same old small mindedness of dave a’s comments.
    Good thing Dave wasn’t one of the Fathers of confederation, or we’d still be waiting on that railroad getting completed. It would cost too much tax dollars in his cloudy viewpoint.

    • maritimejoe // April 17, 2018 at 7:49 am //

      Good thing you and BooEskimos weren’t Fathers of confederation, the country would be bankrupt.
      Some of us are concerned how are tax money is spent.
      Spending $400 MILLION on the new Convention Centre that will bring in Conventions throughout the year and fill hotels and restaurants is a good investment – a CFL stadium is NOT a good investment

      • Robert Shmigelsky // April 17, 2018 at 9:12 am //

        Didn’t it just come out that that convention centre you mentioned is bleeding money?

        Saying they are building a CFL stadium is the wrong term to use as it would be used for more than just CFL football.

  13. TruBlu58 // April 17, 2018 at 8:55 am //

    If communities waited until every social and infrastructure need was addressed, there would never be a museum, park, arena, or stadium built. Halifax is the largest metropolitan area (>400K)in North America without a stadium asset. Note – twice the size of Regina and Green Bay. Concerts are held on the Commons without any adequate infrastructure in the mud. Trade shows/exhibitions are at the dilapidated Halifax Exhibition Complex. High school and university sports (track, soccer, rugby, field hockey, lacrosse, etc.) are held at various mediocre facilities without any stands spectators. IT IS TIME FOR HALIFAX TO JOIN THE REST OF THE WORLD, and build this infrastructure through a private/public partnership. Enough of the “can’t” attitude – Let’s Get’r Done!

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