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New poll shows Atlantic Canadians prefer NFL, sparking debate about CFL franchise viability


Saint Mary’s Huskies head football coach Steve Sumarah was not surprised to hear there is new data that shows the National Football League (NFL) has a huge following in the Maritimes.

“Marketing of the NFL is the greatest marketing machine in the world when it comes to pro sports,” said Sumarah.

According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 62 per cent of Canadian football fans prefer the Super Bowl over the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) championship, the Grey Cup. In Atlantic Canada the number is even higher, with 74 per cent of fans favouring the Super Bowl.

“I think that’s quite accurate for fans here in Atlantic Canada,” said HRM Councillor Tony Mancini, who is also a big sports fan. “But, if the CFL was to show up here on a regular basis, that would change.”

Mancini supports the idea of a permanent CFL team one day playing in Halifax, in a stadium built through a mix of public and private funding.

“I think we are missing opportunities because we don’t have a stadium,” said Mancini.

According to TSN football insider Dave Naylor, any examination of fan viewing habits in this region requires context.

“I think it’s easier to be a fan of the National Football League when you’re living in a place that doesn’t have a team of any kind,” said Naylor, who added the CFL is still bullish on the idea of expanding to the Maritimes.

As for the appetite of football fans in this region?

“It doesn’t have to be an either or choice. You could be somebody who really prefers the NFL but also enjoys the CFL,” said Naylor.

Sumarah, with more than four decades of his life devoted to football, is certain a Halifax-based CFL team would be successful.

“I think of those nine regular season games as nine events,” said Sumarah.

Football fan Louie Velocci is waiting patiently for the day to come.

“It’s the right thing for Halifax and the Maritimes,” said Velocci. “I would hold multiple season tickets and I would have family tickets and friend tickets.”

Velocci said a 10th CFL team located in the Maritimes would be an opportunity to bring people together and spark business growth in the Maritimes. Top Stories

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