Football

Proposed CFL team kicks off season ticket drive

Maritime Football Ltd. hoping sales will show potential for football in Halifax

A push for season ticket holders is underway for a Canadian Football League team in Halifax — even though it doesn’t exist yet or have a place to play.

Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of Maritime Football Ltd., and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie launched a ticket drive Wednesday to stir up interest for a CFL franchise in Atlantic Canada. They also kicked off a name the team contest.

LeBlanc said people can place $50 deposits through Ticketmaster to reserve season tickets. While there’s no sales goal, he’s hopeful that sales will show potential for a team in Halifax.

“It is important that you have a nice base of season ticket holders,” said LeBlanc, former co-owner and CEO of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.

“I would like to see us at least have half the building filled with season ticket members, and I think that is achievable if you look across the league.”

Ticket holders will be able to propose a team name or choose from the Atlantic Admirals, Atlantic Convoy, Atlantic Storm or the Atlantic Schooners.

During the announcement at Saint Mary’s University, LeBlanc acknowledged news of season tickets came before the stadium.

“The biggest elephant in the room is a place to play. For this to become a reality we have to have a stadium,” he said.

Maritime Football will not be granted a CFL expansion team until a 24,000-seat arena is secured. It has proposed Shannon Park as the potential site. LeBlanc said Maritime Football has met with the Millbrook First Nation, which has land claims at Shannon Park, and feels they can come to an agreement.

LeBlanc said the next step is for Maritime Football to present a final proposal for Halifax regional council. Maritime Football has already suggested tax increment financing to help with funding.

On Oct. 30, regional council unanimously voted to have a staff report done on a proposed stadium. LeBlanc said he believes council will approve the building, which will enable Maritime Football and council to jointly ask the provincial government for the needed funds.

Coun. Matt Whitman showed his support by posting his season tickets confirmation of deposit on Twitter.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Whitman.

Moshe Lander, a sports economist at Concordia University, calls the ticket drive “very haphazard.” He doubts it will prove there is interest in a football team for Halifax.

“There is speculation that they could be starting in Moncton for the first little while so selling season tickets is kind of putting the cart before the horse,” said Lander.

“I think that unless there is overwhelming support for season tickets it’s indicative of nothing.”

LeBlanc said the stadium could be used for more than football.

“There are other large events that require a stadium and a facility of that size to host it and that would be, I think, the real icing on the cake for the region to finally have that facility and be able to bid on those types of events,” he said.

For Ambrosie, the significance of a new team stretches well beyond Halifax..

“This is not just a casual interest; it is a passionate interest because having this 10th franchise is important to the future of our league,” he said.

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