CFL team in Atlantic Canada ‘very unlikely’ states Halifax mayor Mike Savage

The Atlantic Schooners chances of coming to fruition in the Maritimes is a long shot due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December, Halifax Regional Municipality debated the proposed stadium in Atlantic Canada and it ended with council voting 10-7 in favour of funding $20 million for the project. It would have been a one-time contribution towards construction costs of a community stadium, payable upon substantial completion of the facility. However, the coronavirus has changed the course.

“It always seemed to me that it would have been nice to complete the link and have a team on the east coast. It would have balanced out the East Division and the West Division. And I think there would have been a lot of enthusiasm across Atlantic Canada for a team,” Savage told Huddle Today.

“But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. From our point of view, it seemed too good to be true to get a $120 million stadium for $20 million. Sometimes things that seem too good to be true turn out to be just that. I think I have to say, in all honesty, it’s very unlikely.”

The contribution agreement with the stadium proponent, Schooners Sports and Entertainment, was to be subject to the selection of a site with optimal access to major transportation routes and necessary infrastructure acceptable to Regional Council.

SSE amended their initial proposal for a community stadium which would have seating capacity for 24,000 — 12,000 permanent seating and 12,000 temporary seating. The cost of the stadium was estimated to be in the range of $100 million to $110 million including the purchase of land.

The stadium would pay full property tax of approximately $8.7 to $28.7 million over a 10-20 year period. Staff has been clear in discussions to date with HRM it will not take any financial, construction and operational risks.

“The municipality, eventually, would have gotten that $20 million back in the form of property tax,” Savage said. “It was too good a deal to pass up, even though it was far from certain that it would happen. But if it doesn’t happen, there’s no risk.”