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Old Posted Nov 21, 2009, 12:21 PM
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From the Herald:

Uteck Bowl not tied to SMU

CHRIS COCHRANE
Sat. Nov 21 - 4:46 AM




PHIL CURRIE SURPRISED many this week when he mused publicly about the possibility of the CIS national football semifinal, now known as the Uteck Bowl and staged at Huskies Stadium every two years, moving around the AUS conference in the near future.

The Atlantic University Sport executive director tossed out that suggestion during a pre-Uteck Bowl interview, while discussing the condition of Huskies Stadium with CTV Atlantic’s Paul Hollingsworth.

Obviously, Currie was also speaking with conference-building on his mind.

The AUS brain trust is aware that any new interlock deal with the Quebec conference could be the last one. If that happens, the AUS will eventually be back to a four-team conference without interlock, a scenario no one finds attractive.

There’s pressure to entice at least one more school to take on the expense of building a football program and eventually give the AUS a more stable five-team operation.

What better way to attract more interest than to showcase the conference’s biggest game, which has been exclusively a Halifax event for decades, in different markets?

The market that best fits that plan is Moncton, with its spanking new stadium and the growing popularity of football in New Brunswick.

"Moncton is an attractive opportunity," Currie said on Wednesday. "We are also looking for some expansion in New Brunswick. It could be a catalyst."

Currie, who has a habit of successfully tossing new ideas into the public forum to land feedback, said any decisions on Uteck Bowl future sites will be decided by the conference members.

"It (Uteck Bowl) is an (AUS) association event. It’s directed by the members of the association. We do have members interested in hosting it outside of Halifax. We have to take those inquiries seriously."

Currie said changing economics make it possible to present a more sound business case for hosting such events in markets outside Halifax.

He expects a profitable Final 6 in Sydney next spring, the first time that AUS basketball event hasn’t been held in Halifax in over two decades. That could give hope to smaller market schools, such as Acadia or St. F.X., to perhaps someday host a Uteck Bowl.

"A market like Moncton, St. F.X. or Acadia, when you go to those markets the business case changes," Currie said. "It’s not as expensive to run an event in those markets as in Halifax."

Saint Mary’s athletic director Steve Sarty can quickly make a strong case for keeping the game in Halifax.

"It was all a bit of a surprise to me," Sarty said. "And it was a little bit upsetting. We’re not surprised to hear that our stadium needs to be replaced. A new stadium will come to Saint Mary’s; it’s just a matter of time."

But the stadium issue aside, does Sarty expect a fight to keep the Uteck Bowl in its longtime home?

"I don’t think fight is the right word. But we need to probably talk about the bigger picture. Once this (Uteck Bowl) is done and we see where we end up next week, we’ll start talking about, in two years’ time, are we going to have the Uteck Bowl back here and what do we need to do to make sure it happens?"

Is it a good idea to consider a move?

That really depends on the financial figures, the demand for the Uteck Bowl in other markets and whether a change can help lead to expansion. Presently, the AUS has a good thing going at Saint Mary’s. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t also work well in other AUS markets.

The need for a new stadium has got some media attention today. This story is also on News 95.7 this morning (Saturday). They will be broadcasting the game live, along with a tape delay on TSN. Fenwick16 is right, this is the time for citizens of Halifax to demand a new stadium during and after an event that would benefit from a new stadium. They are expecting over 7,000 people, somebody should sit in the derelict roped off section with a sign saying we need a new stadium.