CFL reports negotiations underway to bring team to Halifax
Mayor says stadium currently not a capital priority
November 17, 2017, 9:43 am ASTLast Updated: November 17, 2017, 10:46 am AST'
A group of investors is in talks with the Canadian Football League to bring a franchise to Halifax.
According to a news release sent out by the CFL on Thursday, “the CFL has had discussions with a group interested in securing a Canadian Football League franchise for the city of Halifax.”
Mayor Mike Savage called it a “real” proposal, but said a stadium isn’t a capital priority at this time.
“Any proposal would need to be private sector led and make economic sense for the municipality,” Savage said in a statement.
“While this is early stages, we are aware of a serious proposal from serious, experienced people. They have worked together to develop a real proposal. This is not a decision stage for our municipality yet, but this could be an exciting opportunity for the Halifax region.”
Bruce Bowser, president of moving company AMJ Campbell Van Lines, is a Halifax native and part of the group looking to bring the team to Halifax.
I am extremely proud of the efforts our team has made in our pitch to bring a CFL franchise to Halifax. https://t.co/LbmRV85uKi
— Bruce Bowser (@bruce_bowser) November 16, 2017
A couple of councillors took to social media to comment on the issue.
Deputy Mayor Waye Mason said on Twitter that any business arrangement to bring football to the region must be a private venture.
Same as always – needs to be business / private sector lead – need to see a season ticket drive to prove the support – cannot be a municipal lead project but some partnerships possible. No capacity to spend 250 mil on a stadium. https://t.co/yfBENGYE6B
— Waye Mason (@WayeMason) November 17, 2017
For those wondering how long this announcement has been in the works, Coun. Lisa Blackburn indicated that she’s been anticipating the news.
Guess the cat’s out of the bag…… https://t.co/tBPDyAQXic
— Lisa Blackburn (@newsbag) November 16, 2017
The Internet reacts
The public also took to Twitter, reacting to the news with joy and skepticism.
Some doubted that Halifax has a market for a CFL team.
While I think the market for a CFL team in Halifax is miniscule, I could be convinced to support this if they agree to call the team the Rough Riders. https://t.co/7Rzn9FelCV
— Ryan McNutt (@RyanMcNutt) November 17, 2017
One person questioned why a national league doesn’t have teams east of Montreal.
I’ve always felt that having a so-called ‘national’ football league that ends in Montreal – ignoring 4 provinces – is a metaphor for how the rest of the country views Atlantic Canada. #CFL @CFL #GreyCup #Halifax #TimAndSid @timandsid @Sportsnet @TSN_Sports @cbcsports
— BigJMcC (@BigJMcC) November 17, 2017
The CFL’s history with Halifax
There has been talk of having a CFL team in Halifax on and off for decades.
In 1982, Dartmouth became home to the Atlantic Schooners, but the franchise folded in 1983 before a stadium was built or any games were played.
In 2005, the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats played to a 16-16 draw at the now-demolished Huskies Stadium at Saint Mary’s University in a sellout exhibition match.
In 2012, council voted against the development of a stadium as the regional municipality contemplated being a host city for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In 2015, Halifax regional council voted 9-7 against the purchase of land in Shannon Park that would have been used as the site for a stadium.
If a team were to come to Halifax, it would be the 10th team in the CFL. There are currently five teams in the organization’s west division and four teams in the east division.
The last new team to enter the league was the Ottawa Redblacks in 2010.