Halifax CFL group says it will provide update on bid by end of March
Just months ago there was excitement and buzz surrounding a new CFL team possibly coming to Halifax, but now the project seems to have stalled somewhat.
Football executive Richard MacLean is all in when it comes to the Canadian Football League possibly expanding into the Maritimes.
“For a CFL team in Halifax I would be a thumbs-up,” he said.
MacLean is the U Sports director of football, which means he oversees all university football in Canada.
MacLean is passionate about his sport.
But on the subject of CFL expansion, he says “the question becomes where are you going to play?”
He's also realistic and wonders who is going to pay for it, which leads to the ongoing stadium debate.
“To me, there's not much to announce unless you're going to announce a stadium,” he said.
Halifax Regional Municipality Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini says he's not 100 per cent sold on CFL expansion.
“My interest is much broader than that,” Mancini said.
Mancini would like to see a stadium built in the HRM with a solid business plan behind it, and he's open to a stadium possibly paving the way for a CFL team.
“We have lots of growth,” Mancini said. “There's lots of excitement within the municipality, but I don't think many of my colleagues are interested in cutting a big cheque.”
At this stage, HRM council is in a holding pattern awaiting Schooners Sports and Entertainment, the group behind the proposed team to make its best pitch for stadium funding.
“We’re still waiting for the football partnership to come back with their official request,” said Mancini, who admits he's surprised that an official funding request hasn't happened yet.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit faster because the group that is bringing this forward were pretty aggressive announcing a team name and a ticket drive and all that,” he said.
Anthony Leblanc, the founding partner of the group trying to bring a team to Halifax, said Monday in a statement that "Schooners Sports & Entertainment continues to work diligently on bringing a CFL team to the region. We are aiming to provide significant updates at the end of March.”
Mancini says if that update includes a request for stadium funding council will debate the matter once it receives a report and recommendation from HRM staff.
CFL expansion and the Schooners coming to the Maritimes is a real possibility, but it's clear the pre-Christmas momentum and excitement have tapered off. Expect a slow and thorough stadium debate to heat up in the spring.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Paul Hollingsworth.