Thousands of fans expected as Moncton hosts CFL exhibition game this summer
Promoters may want to put a CFL team in Halifax, but the CFL won't be touching down in Halifax this summer.
Moncton will host a regular-season game between Toronto and Montreal because that city already has what Halifax needs – a stadium.
Atlantic schooners founding partner Anthony Leblanc announced that a regular season CFL game will again be played at the Moncton stadium.
“We did look at Halifax, at Saint Mary's University, but it just wasn't expandable to the point where it would have made sense,” Leblanc said.
There was no argument today, from the Halifax mayor.
“We always knew there would be a game,” Mike Savage said. “It couldn't be in Halifax, we don't have a place to play. That's what this whole thing is about, is can we find a way to build a stadium in Halifax that is good for the city, not just for football but for the city and if there is, can the city and province can support it?”
The Schooners also thanked Saint John and Antigonish for expressing an interest in hosting the game, and football enthusiasts in Saint John hope their city stays on the league's radar.
“We're not going to end up with a team here, but we could have a game here,” said Barry Ogden, the Saint John Seawolves president. “The team is obviously going to Halifax, but I think it would be smart for the Halifax promoters to look at both Saint John and Moncton.”
The schooners are still reluctant to put a date on when the team will be on the field in the CFL. The hold-up remains, a stadium.
“It's coming on two years that we've been having conversations with the Halifax municipality and the province of Nova Scotia, and I do feel humbly that we're getting to the point of decisions being made,” Leblanc said. “I can't put a timeline on when that would be.”
In the meantime, Moncton, is getting ready to host a big summer event.
“Hopefully, we'll be looking at the possibility of having 16,000 fans,” said Moncton Deputy Mayor Greg Turner. “At any time, at any event in the Maritimes, that's a huge number.”
Football fans say the game will gauge how strongly the Maritimes will support a CFL team.
“It's a very important temperature check I think, and I think it's the perfect temperature check,” said football fan Andy Jardine. “It's a good spot for it.”
Tickets go on sale in a couple of weeks.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.