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Halifax to host regular-season CFL game this summer
HALIFAX -- It appears a regular-season CFL game will be played in Halifax this summer.
TSN’s CFL insider Dave Naylor is reporting that the league will officially announce the game on Thursday.
It is expected that the Saskatchewan Roughriders will play against the Toronto Argonauts at Huskies Stadium at Saint Mary's University on July 25.
"I think that's a very exciting step," said Richard MacLean, U Sports director of football. "One that is predictably being linked to the ongoing negotiations to build a new stadium."
Moncton hosted a regular-season CFL game between the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts last season. There have been four regular-season games played in Moncton since 2010.
The CFL hasn't been in Halifax since the city hosted a pre-season game in 2005 between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Argonauts. A second pre-season game scheduled the year after was cancelled.
According to Naylor, the CFL is saying officially that it "does not see a direct correlation between the success of this year's one-off game in Halifax in July and the efforts to bring a 10th team to Halifax."
But Naylor says all eyes will be on Halifax and the game will be viewed as a test drive to see how the market responds.
"From an optics perspective, it would certainly be beneficial for the league and the Schooners if this game sells out," Naylor said.
MacLean says the success of this game could be a critical turning point in the effort to land a team in Halifax.
"For me, a big success with this game on the peninsula would, I hope, move the needle," MacLean said.
A decision has yet to be made on whether a CFL stadium will be built in Halifax. Schooner Sports and Entertainment told CTV Atlantic that January has been a busy month behind the scenes, as talks continue with the province.
“There has been one constant throughout our pursuit of a 10th franchise and that has been the steadfast support from the league," Anthony Leblanc from Schooner Sports and Entertainment said in a statement. "(Thursday's) announcement will be further evidence of that support not only regarding SSE’s efforts, but to the league’s support of Atlantic Canada and its view that this great region is already a part of the CFL."
Last month, Halifax Regional Council gave approval to a one-time, $20-million contribution toward the construction of a stadium, but with conditions.
SSE is now required to find a stadium site with suitable public transportation links and must substantially complete construction of the stadium before the money is paid out.
Talks have been ongoing with the province, but no formal proposal has been submitted by Schooner Sports and Entertainment.
MacLean also hopes that by choosing Saint Mary's University as the location to play the game in July, the CFL, along with Schooner Sports and Entertainment, will consider building a permanent stadium on the Halifax peninsula, and not in Dartmouth.
"When you're dealing with municipal stadiums, you want them in the centre of town," MacLean said. "You want them in walking distance from your restaurants and your hotels."
It's expected as many as 10,000 temporary seats will be added to Huskies Stadium.
With files from The Canadian Press