Stadium

Councillors cautious on proposed 20,000 seat stadium

The proposal for a new stadium will be debated tonight at regional council

Shannon Park has been empty since 2003.
Shannon Park has been empty since 2003. Now that may change.   Alexander Quon

A proposal for a new stadium in Halifax is turning out be larger than some councillors say they can support.

The Halifax Regional Council will meet tonight to discuss a proposed 20,000-seat stadium that would be built in Shannon Park.

Two reports, completed by city staff in 2011 and 2012, originally called for a 10,000 to 14,000 seat stadium. However, those reports were compiled in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. With both events having passed, the new report suggests that neither of the old reports would provide a good analysis for the future of the project. More analysis will be discussed at council tonight.

The report says a larger stadium is expected to attract bigger sports leagues. The goal would be to bring in a Canadian Football League franchise or Major League Soccer team to the Halifax area.

Councillor Tim Outhit of Bedford-Wentworth doesn’t think a stadium of the proposed size should be a priority.

“People are screaming for better public transit, better roads,” he said. “A stadium would require federal and provincial support, but I think that their focus is going to be on hospitals and transit which I think are greater priorities.”

Councillor Gloria McCluskey of Dartmouth Centre says that she won’t vote for a motion involving the proposal.

“It’s not any different than before,” she said. “There’s no financial plan in place.”

The Shannon Park site was used by the Department of National Defence (DND) for housing until 2003 when it was declared as surplus.

Now, many of the over 40 structures on the property stand vacant and unused. According to the city’s report many of the buildings have been identified as being obsolete.

A majority of the area was acquired by the Canada Lands Company in 2014 from the Department of National Defence (DND).

Outhit says that his concern isn’t about a stadium itself. He believes that at some point Halifax will need a community stadium, but he thinks that for a stadium of this size everyone should contribute their fair share.

“The city should contribute to [the proposed stadium] along with provincial and federal government partners,” he said. “But in order for it to be large enough the private sector would need to step up and help pay for that upsizing.”

The Regional Council meets at 6 p.m. tonight.