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Schooners say site of CFL game in August still up in the air
The owners of the proposed Atlantic Schooners CFL team say the field is still wide open for communities hoping to host a regular season game this summer.
In fact, they're looking a bit further afield, to include the city that hosted the first CFL pre-season game in the Maritimes.
Venues in Moncton, Halifax and Antigonish, N.S., have been mentioned as possible sites for the Aug. 25 CFL regular-season game.
But city officials in Saint John say the Canada Games Stadium should also be considered.
“We have the facilities here, and we certainly have the volunteers,” said deputy mayor Shirley McAlary, who wants Saint John to be part of the CFL discussion. “You know, I wish we could have our name on that list and be considered along with Moncton, Halifax and other cities. We have got everything here for it.”
Officials with the Atlantic Schooners organization said today that the refurbished stadium in Saint John is not entirely out of the picture.
“When I did a preliminary search, we are familiar that the Canada Games Stadium is in Saint John,” said Atlantic Schooners founding partner Anthony Leblanc. “It does have the expandability, so we certainly want to explore it as well.”
Thousands of temporary seats would need to be added to the site, but the same is true for Halifax and the field at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.
Leblanc says that the game to be held this summer, somewhere in the Maritimes will not be the last time that the CFL touches down in the region. He says, both the CFL and the Atlantic Schooners are trying to build a broad base of support within the region, so other communities will be considered for big events.
“Things like training camps and pre-season games and regular season games, I think that it is critically important that a CFL team and its players and front office staff, and its games are all across the region,” Leblanc said.
A final decision on where this year's event will be staged has to be made within a few weeks.
The Schooners organization says Saint John has not been ruled out, nor has any other community with a suitable venue.
Leblanc says the Schooners are working with a Toronto company to supply the temporary seating.
That will be needed, regardless of where the event is held, and that's the single biggest expense in hosting the event,
Any stadium that will host the game will have to expanding the seating capacity to house at least 20,000 people.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.