Latest stadium pitch 'the most credible proposal,' Halifax councillor says
The man spearheading the stadium plan and a potential CFL team for Halifax says he's communicating with city managers and plans to be back in the city in the near future.
After years of waiting, Halifax Regional Council has kicked off the long process to determine once and for all if a stadium will be built at Shannon Park in Dartmouth.
"We want to deal with the feds because they own the land, and we want to deal with the First Nations people, because they own some of the land as well," said Halifax Regional Coun. Lisa Blackburn.
Included in the submission to the city last Friday was an artist's rendering of the latest version of the stadium.
"We are probably closer than we have ever been before," Blackburn said. "Certainly those councillors who have been around a lot longer than I have, have said to me this probably is the most credible proposal that has come across our desks, so that gives me some hope."
However, there are detractors like football executive Richard MacLean, who offered this thought last Wednesday:
"You want to get this right," MacLean said. "We're only going to build one stadium and we want to get it right."
MacLean says Shannon Park is valuable real estate, but he says the proposed stadium is on the wrong side of the harbour.
"You want to build a small stadium closer to downtown," MacLean said.
Halifax resident Tom King says Shannon Park is a parcel of land in desperate need of makeover.
"I see a space that needs to be filled," King said. "It's been empty for a long time."
He likes the idea of a stadium for the Dartmouth location.
"I think it would be great for the community," King said. "I think Dartmouth would benefit from the stadium and the local people would come out."
But King, like many in the city, says it can't be funded solely with taxpayer money.
If a new stadium brings a CFL team, the team should also chip in, he says.
"You'd like them to put some money into it," King said.
Blackburn agrees, and says it will be the central issue in the debate going forward.
"I personally love the thought of a CFL stadium here in Halifax, but I'm not willing to write a blank cheque," said Blackburn.
Anthony Leblanc, the co-founder of Schooners Sports and Entertainment, said discussions have already started.
He said he had a long conversation with the chief administrative officer Tuesday and expects to be meeting with staff in a couple of weeks to get their initial feedback and answer questions.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Paul Hollingsworth.