Potential CFL team owners working behind the scenes to bring franchise to Halifax
Published Friday, January 26, 2018 8:35PM AST
Last Updated Friday, January 26, 2018 8:39PM AST
The group that's working to bring a CFL franchise to Halifax appears to be playing the long game.
The potential owners are working behind the scenes to line up funding, sponsorship, a name, and a stadium – all in time for kickoff in 2020 or 2021.
“We're going to spend some time talking with the city, with the province, and even starting conversations with some local organizations that have indicated that they have a desire to talk about a sponsorship,” says Anthony LeBlanc, who is leading the effort.
The potential franchise doesn't have a name, but the group owns the Atlantic Schooners trademark.
“We just saw that there is an awful lot of excitement around that name,” says LeBlanc. “I'm not sitting here today saying that is going to be the name, but we felt that it certainly had a lot of strong potential.”
They also don't have a home, and that's been a major hurdle dating back to the 1980s. Even then, governments have been unwilling to commit large amounts of public money.
"It has to be a large development like you see in other markets like Ottawa, where you see restaurants and mixed use retail and even residential,” LeBlanc says.
As the group hones in on a stadium location, it's also working on economic impact analysis. LeBlanc is pushing for more private investment than other stadiums in Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa.
“We know that the onus is on us to put together a plan that works for everyone, including and most importantly taxpayers,” he says.
The group hasn't asked the province or municipality for money yet. Both say there are options aside from a direct investment.
“If they can do it where we pay for our contribution through potential future revenues that might not have existed otherwise, then that's a big win for the community,” says Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
“Ours would have to be, whether it's a payroll remittance or something of that nature,” says Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
In the meantime, the ownership group will test the waters in public. A "name the team" contest is likely coming soon, along with a season ticket drive. LeBlanc is aiming for 10,000 fans to buy in in anticipation of the first East Coast kickoff.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.