Maritime football group narrows stadium site search to two spots

Maritime Football Limited has zeroed in on a couple potential CFL stadium sites.

“We’re down to two, a preferred site and a backup site,” Anthony LeBlanc told Francis Campbell of The Chronicle Herald.

The group led by LeBlanc, Bruce Bowser and Gary Drummond are negotiating with the site owners hoping to finalize a stadium site soon.

“We’re trying to get the best terms possible,” LeBlanc said.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage is on record that the project, which is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of $200 million, has to make sense for the municipality and needs to be transit-oriented. The group is looking at a similar model to Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, which includes the 24,000-seat TD Place along with shops, restaurants, green spaces and courtyards, according to Zane Woodford of StarMerto Halifax.

“We certainly think it’s the right way to go,” LeBlanc said. “There is the creation of the fan experience of having things that you can do other than just going to the game. These types of facilities, they are not just football. … It becomes an economic driver and it helps to build kind of those mini-communities.”

Dartmouth Crossing and a property in Bayers Lake business park are the likely stadium locations, Campbell reports.

“Obviously, the difference between Ottawa and the sites we’re looking at is that we’ve been pretty open that there isn’t a site in, call it downtown Halifax, that is sufficient. The green neighbourhood in Ottawa is a little bit different than the sites we’re looking at but we feel comfortable that there is a true mixed-use development potential,” LeBlanc said.

There is a clear appetite for spending municipal tax dollars to help fund a new outdoor stadium for Halifax according to a poll conducted by StarMetro Halifax.

“What they are looking at, I think they have been public about this, is (something) that’s offset against future potential tax revenue in the area that they want to build,” Mayor Savage said.

Last Friday, LeBlanc was in Winnipeg to meet and present a business plan review to CFL executives.

“We’ve talked extensively with the league, HRM and the province about this that we’re probably going to take a play out of the playbook in other league’s recent expansion,” LeBlanc said.

“If you look at Las Vegas and Seattle in the NHL, one of the conditional precedents was to go out and do a season ticket drive, so everybody knows that the market that everyone thinks is there is really there. I think it’s fair to say that that will absolutely be part of our plan.”

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