Halifax franchise hinges on a stadium deal: Ambrosie

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie remains optimistic about the prospect of a 10th CFL team in Halifax but says building a stadium remains the biggest hurdle.

“There has been lots of reasons to be very positive about what’s happening [in Halifax]. I always have this note of caution. First, I would say dealing with the Maritime Football Group, Anthony LeBlanc, Bruce Bowser and Gary Drummond, these are just exceptional men and I think to myself how great it will be to add them to our ecosystem because they’re just spectacular guys,” Ambrosie said.

“But then you go to the big picture, so ultimately this thing hinges on the stadium. In the context of our game, think of it this way: we’re down by five and there is three minutes left to go in the game. We’re getting a lot of first downs right now and our fans are cheering, it’s really exciting, but all those first downs won’t mean anything unless we get in the end zone.”

Halifax council voted unanimously to move ahead with a staff report on the proposed stadium plans, which have been submitted to the municipality. Shannon Park was the chosen location to build a 24,000-seat stadium on a 38-hectare area, the cost being estimated between $170-$190 million.

“I just remind myself to keep focused on doing the work and that’s why we’re helping everywhere we can, we’re staying in regular contact with the Maritime Football Group,” Ambrosie said.

“Certainly the tone out of Mayor Savage in Halifax is positive. Premier McNeil has been spectacular, the conversations with him have been very positive. Certainly the tone just in the community has been exceptionally positive. Lots of first downs, we’re definitely moving the ball, we gotta score.”

But Ambrosie is preaching patience for the Atlantic franchise.

“The first principle is not to box ourselves in with an artificial timetable. We’re making good progress. The work is getting done — this is the part in the process that’s not particularly sexy because there is a lot of administrative grind,” Ambrosie said.

“When the officials put their arms up to signify a touchdown, that’s when this will be the great opportunity for a truly national celebration.”

The commissioner will once again depart on Randy’s Road Trip, traveling across the country for the second-straight business season.

“I’m definitely going to go back to the Atlantic region and get a chance to visit with football fans there, which last year was spectacular. And I’m hoping within the not-too-distant future some of the important pieces of news will start to come in,” Ambrosie said.

“But for right now the work is being done by serious people who are passionate about getting this 10th team in the league. I’d like to tell you more, but for now that’s what’s happening.”

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