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Atlantic Schooners announced as name for proposed CFL team

Maritime Football Ltd. has a name for proposed CFL team, but no stadium

The Atlantic Schooners have sailed past the competition to become the name of Halifax’s proposed CFL team.

Maritime Football Ltd. and the Atlantic Schooners Grey Cup Kitchen Party announced the name at a media conference in Edmonton that was live streamed at the HFX Sports Bar and Grill in Halifax.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to announce that the 10th team in the CFL will be known as the Atlantic Schooners,” said John Ryerson, organizer of the annual Atlantic Schooners Grey Cup Kitchen Party.

As he made the announcement, fans at the bar cheered and clapped.

The name Atlantic Schooners beat out Atlantic Storm, Atlantic Admirals and Atlantic Convoy.

On Nov. 7, Maritime Football Ltd. kicked off a season ticket drive, asking supporters to pay a $50 deposit. Anyone who made a season ticket deposit got a chance to vote on the team name.

The Atlantic Schooners Grey Cup Kitchen Party started in 2004 and is held during Grey Cup weekend. It is organized by John Ryerson and a group of volunteers that are committed to keeping the Atlantic Canadian CFL dream alive.

An article written by the Atlantic Schooners Grey Cup Kitchen Party explains Atlantic Canada was granted a CFL franchise in 1983, but was unable to secure the money for a stadium. The franchise folded in 1984, but the name Atlantic Schooners was kept alive because Ryerson wanted to have an Atlantic Canadian presence at the Grey Cup. The kitchen party then became a Grey Cup tradition.

Neither Ryerson nor any other representative provided updates on the proposed stadium or how many season ticket deposits have been sold.

Randy Ambrosie, commissioner of the CFL, said the only thing standing in the way of Halifax being granted a CFL franchise is the stadium.

“We have nothing but a bunch of small administrative stuff that has to get done,” he said. “Obviously build a stadium, and get ready to play some football.”

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie (centre) answers questions while Bruce Bowser (left) and Anthony LeBlanc (right) founding partners of Maritime Football Ltd. listen at the Nov. 7 press conference
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie (centre) answers questions on Nov. 7, with Bruce Bowser (left) and Anthony LeBlanc (right), founding partners of Maritime Football Ltd.   Brent Kelloway

While the stadium is the biggest hurdle for Halifax’s CFL franchise, Ambrosie said they also need corporate sponsorships.

Grant Hilliard, a CFL fan for 60 years, watched the announcement at the HFX Sports Bar. He agreed the stadium is the biggest issue, but said it could create more job opportunities.

“It would be wonderful. There would be a lot of sports information; it would bring a lot of television work and bring tourists here as well,” said Hilliard. “Plus, it would be pretty enjoyable to go and see the games.”

Maritime Football Ltd. has said it hopes to build a 24,000-seat stadium in the Shannon Park area. On Oct. 30, Halifax Regional Council unanimously voted to have a staff report conducted on the proposed building.

Ambrosie said Friday he is excited about the opportunity to have a CFL franchise in region, as the most eastern team is in Montreal. He said they want to create a Coast Bowl that would feature the B.C. Lions against the Atlantic Schooners.

“The thought of a truly national Canadian Football League, coast to coast, is absolutely amazing,” said Ambrosie.

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