Schooners group amends Halifax stadium proposal

City ‘not prepared to own or operate a stadium,' HRM official says

The people who want to bring a CFL team to Halifax have revised their stadium proposal, as city staff prepare their recommendations for council.

Schooners Sports and Entertainment sent an amendment to the Halifax Regional Municipality on Nov. 8, which the city made public on Friday.

The key change in the proposal is around financing. The original proposal presented five options for using taxpayer money to fund a stadium. The new one guarantees minimum risk for the city.

The group now proposes to contribute at least $30 million of its own money for the construction of a stadium. It also clarifies its proposal to have the city pay an annual $2-million loan. The group is now offering to pay $1 million of its own money. The city would recoup the other million through a $10 ticket surcharge on all CFL events.

Taxpayer money would only be used for “commercial offerings,” and not for the development of the stadium itself. The city would determine what operations, called the TIF zone, would be funded with taxpayer money. Revenue generated by the TIF zone, up to $1 million, would go to Schooners Sports and Entertainment and anything exceeding $1 million would go back to the city.

The group would take on all expenses for the expansion required to host a CFL team, saying it must be “the party at risk for any development delays.”

“Whatever ownership model is ultimately utilized, it must ensure that HRM bears no operational risk,” the amendment states.

In a statement released Friday, the city said the chief administrative officer “is not prepared to own or operate a stadium. The municipality maintains the stadium must be privately owned and operated as opposed to being public infrastructure.”

Many regional councillors have raised concerns about a taxpayer-funded stadium.

The previous proposal, Coun. Sam Austin told The Signal, put the city and its taxpayers at a disproportionate risk. Moshe Lander, a Montreal-based sports economist, said the Schooners business model was a bad one and “government money is a bad idea.”

The new amendment also promises:

  • 10 CFL games every year
  • “A couple of” major concerts at the stadium
  • One Grey Cup every decade
  • A possible NHL outdoor classic game

Municipal staff are reviewing the proposal, including potential risks, benefits to the community, and finance and transit options.

Council is expected to receive the staff report and recommendations in December.

Karla Renic

Karla Renic

Karla Renic is a multimedia journalist in her fourth year at the University of King's College. She freelances and works as the news editor at the Dal Gazette.

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3 comments

  1. If you actually read the proposal SSE isn’t risking any of their funds, the $30M comes from their share of the ticket surtax, so they have no skin in the game, to coin a phrase.

  2. Why shouldn’t the province and municipality bare some of the expense. What exactly has been going on in the Maritime provinces other than transfer payments?

    1. Allen, because it’s a poor investment for taxpayers at all levels.
      I don’t see NB or PEI offering funds for a Halifax stadium, so this isn’t a Maritime provinces initiative.

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