Halifax stadium proposal hangs on by a thread, faces “final” decision in December

The CFL’s dream of Halifax expansion is alive today, although it may only have six more weeks to live following its survival from a death-blow motion by City Councillor Sam Austin by a narrow 9-8 vote margin.

Halifax mayor Mike Savage was less than optimistic about the prospects of the proposed stadium.

“There are a lot of councillors who’ve indicated they’re not supportive of a stadium,” Savage told Halifax Today in response to the vote.

“Whether there is an opportunity for people to change their mind as we get more analysis from staff, I don’t know. I wouldn’t see it as a hopeful sign that the stadium would pass council when it comes back.”

Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of Schooner Sports and Entertainment, was slightly more optimistic. Though surprised by the level of opposition, LeBlanc said he was “Not going to get too concerned about the results. The good news is we’re continuing the process and we’re working closely with senior staff.”

A motion to speed up the deliberation process did pass council, forcing SSE to bring its basic analysis before the councillors in early December. Both LeBlanc and Savage agreed the stadium proposal could not survive a “no” vote at that juncture.

“This is what they’ve come up with, so I don’t think it’s realistic to say to them give us something else,” Mayor Savage said. “I don’t think they’d be interested, and I don’t think there’s much appetite on the council.”

“The decision that is made will be final,” LeBlanc confirmed. “If it is rejected, yes, we have made an agreement internally within our partnership that we will not be continuing any further.”

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has made Halifax expansion a cornerstone of his tenure, granting SSE a tentative franchise and hoping to start play in 2021. That dream now appears in limbo over concerns about public money being used to assist a private venture.

The stadium vote will be on the agenda either December 3 or 10.

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