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Halifax CFL group proposing scaled-down version of stadium
The latest twist in the proposal to bring a CFL team to Halifax involves a smaller stadium in a sports hub at Shannon Park.
The group promoting the Atlantic Schooners has signed a letter of intent for land with the federal crown agency that owns the land.
While some supporters say it's a win-win, those who'll be asked to pay for it say they'll have to hear a lot more.
The commissioner of the Canadian Football League helped unveil the latest incarnation of a Halifax stadium, although it looks less-and-less like the original $190-million concept.
The new version has 10,000 fewer permanent seats, but temporary seating would be brought in for CFL games.
Despite the signing of a letter of intent, Anthony Leblanc says there's work to be done there, too.
“First and foremost, they want us to go back out to the community and gauge the interest,” Leblanc said. “Because they spent the better part of two years talking to the community, ensuring that their plans as they had them, were acceptable. Now, obviously, things are changing if we're contemplating a stadium, so they would like us to take the initiative to go talk to the community.”
The community will also play a much bigger role in actually using the stadium. A domed roof and a new partnership with Sport Nova Scotia means the facility could be used by amateur teams year-round.
“We're talking about more kids playing sport,” said Sport Nova Scotia CEO Jamie Ferguson. “We're talking about more kids who are likely to be healthy, who are likely to do well in school, who are less likely to break the law. There's all those positive benefits that come with the use of any sport facilities.”
For starters, the organization figures four groups would be using it for up to 25 weeks-a year. It’s potentially a huge opportunity for football, soccer and rugby players all over HRM, but there's still the question about how to pay for it.
“I have no idea,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said when asked how the stadium would be paid for. “We haven't seen anything yet in terms of what the final proposal is.”
Little has changed as far as the mayor's concerned, because the group hasn't technically asked for any money yet.
“We don't know what the expectation would be in terms of municipal or provincial, or federal involvement, which seems kind of unlikely to be honest with you.”
Leblanc said the group is looking for public sector support.
“We've been very open about that throughout this entire process,” Leblanc said. “But what we've heard from the public sector -- and in particular Mayor Savage, as well as Premier McNeil -- is ‘we want to do this, but only if it’s the right level of risk.’”
So, for now, another chapter is being written in the ongoing saga to bring a stadium to Halifax.
Leblanc had previously suggested he wanted final approval for a stadium by the end of June, but that now appears unlikely and he admits that. At city hall, the mayor and council say there isn't much they can say until they've seen the proposal.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.