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Man behind proposed Dartmouth CFL stadium reworks his proposal
HALIFAX -- Three weeks after Halifax council narrowly defeated a motion that would quash a proposed Canadian Football League stadium in Dartmouth, the man behind the facility is changing his sales tactic. Schooners Sports and Entertainment founder, Anthony LeBlanc has recently switched up his pitch to highlight non-football events for the stadium, in an effort to curry favour amongst council and taxpayers.
"We need to continue those efforts; working with stakeholders, working with the corporate community," says LeBlanc
LeBlanc has finessed his strategy even further in an effort to convince city managers and politicians that his stadium plan is worthy of their support.
“[It’s a] very short update document that clarifies some things that were either left unsaid or weren't clear enough,” says LeBlanc. “And we've also included a few new aspects."
One of those new aspects is a regular-season outdoor NHL game, similar to games recently played in Saskatchewan. LeBlanc wants an outdoor game to be played in Dartmouth, and he’s already floated the idea with the NHL – noting Regina’s game saw the city experience great economic impact.
"Seeing that game in Regina and the buzz around it, and the fact the preliminary numbers coming in –that was an economic impact to the city of Regina," says LeBlanc.
A CFL ticket surcharge was also added at a price of $10 per ticket. Leblanc says using a similar surcharge would help Halifax pull in yearly revenue.
"It really does mitigate the risk,” says LeBlanc. “We'd pay HRM $1,000,000 a year, and we'd only have to sell half the tickets we're forecasting to sell for HRM to get their next million dollars back."
And the stadium focus has been expanded from functioning simply as a football venue. LeBlanc says he’s been in discussions with concert promoters from across North America.
"They've said the Halifax market, with that stadium, could easily support one to two of those giant big shows,” says LeBlanc. “The Billy Joels, The Rollings Stones, the U2s."
It’s a welcomed proposal being supported by many entrepreneurs in the province. Concert promoter and producer, Brookes Diamond has been waiting for an outdoor concert venue of the proposed stadium’s scale for decades.
"25,000 seats is a game-changer," says Diamond, who notes Halifax could attract many major acts to the region – but the lack of a suitable venue has deferred those dreams.
"We have some advantages; we're close to Northeastern US – which is where most of the people are," says Diamond.
LeBlanc plans to visit Halifax later in November to meet with HRM staff and councillors and discuss his ideas and the finer details of his plan. However, HRM councillor, Lisa Blackburn, says she plans to bring up tough talking points.
'The level of risk that HRM is being asked to take; that is something that concerns me," says Blackburn, who notes she welcomes LeBlanc’s updated approach. "This is extremely important – I wish that this had been more of a narrative in the public before now."
Blackburn also mentions relations between HRM and Schooners Sports and Entertainment have improved.
Meanwhile, after November’s discussions conclude, more intense debates will commence in December, with a decision concerning whether or not to build the stadium to be made potentially before January.