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CFL reports negotiations underway to bring team to Halifax

Mayor says stadium currently not a capital priority

4 min read
caption Any CFL team would need a stadium built for it
Jessica Sundblad
caption Halifax does not currently have a stadium suitable for a CFL team.
Jessica Sundblad

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.

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“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.

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.

For those wondering how long this announcement has been in the works, Coun. Lisa Blackburn indicated that she’s been anticipating the news.

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.

One person questioned why a national league doesn’t have teams east of Montreal.

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.

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    John Oliver's HBO show 'Last Week Tonight', attacked stadium subsidies. The episode is very funny, and very astute, and you may be able to find a clip on Youtube. I think it first aired in 2015 and it repeats on occasion. Forbes review of the show (search for Jim Pagels, article "Forbes Right on Stadium Subsidy Criticism, but Misses Real Target for Blame" takes politicians who hand out taxpayer money to task, not franchise owners; a quote: "Oliver is spot on in criticizing the coercive policy of forcing taxpayers to line the pockets of billionaires in constructing stadiums that have been proven time and time again to have little, if any, economic benefits for local economies... ...There are a number of reasons a politician might give the green light to such crony deals: a misguided belief that the subsidy will pay off, a fear of upsetting a vocal minority of fans, and/or a desire to stamp their name on a vanity project they can brag about on their resume come re-election time. None of these are free from derision." If a team were to come to Halifax, IF? Please tell me you guys aren't even thinking of it. You fail to mention that the grass roots organized to stop the Commonwealth Games fiasco, and we'd do it for this, too. The Convention centre debacle was bad enough for this city. Subsidizing the Oval is different, because that is participatory sport, not just another place for us to sit on our butts and watch someone else exercise.
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