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  #1401  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2020, 11:24 PM
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BARNES: CFL game in Halifax a taste and a test for the community

It could be 2023 before the Atlantic Schooners host Toronto and Saskatchewan in Halifax home games, so consider this summer’s offering just a taste and a test.

With some involvement and the hearty approval of Schooners Sports and Entertainment principals, who are still working feverishly on securing funding for a stadium deal, the Canadian Football League has scheduled a July 25th regular season game between the Argos and Riders at Saint Mary’s University, in Huskies Stadium.

The tilt will serve as something of a litmus test for the greater football appetite in Halifax. Will locals embrace the game? Will folks from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick travel to Halifax? Will fans make the longer trek from Regina and Toronto? Will people from non-CFL cities across Canada buy tickets to a game in Halifax because they plan to be in the Maritimes in late July, when the place is absolutely gorgeous?

Will Argos’ GM Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons shake the hand of every single fan in attendance?

Each one of those demographics will be counted on to play a role in supporting the Schooners franchise once, or rather if and when, it is up and running as an official member of the CFL.

So this game is much less a test of the stadium itself, because it in no way resembles the $100-million facility that SSE is hoping to build elsewhere in Halifax. Huskies Stadium is not by any means CFL ready today, but temporary stands will be brought in to ensure capacity for at least 10,000 people, more if there is sufficient demand. A 2005 CFL exhibition game there between the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats drew 11,148, so a crowd in the 12,000 range wouldn’t be unexpected.

This tilt is an Argos’ home game, and they will presumably receive the lion’s share of proceeds. Given that Toronto drew crowds as low as 9,819 for Calgary and 10,368 for Ottawa at BMO Field last season, a gathering of 10,000-plus in Huskies Stadium is not much of a hardship for the Argos’ franchise. The 2019 version of Touchdown Atlantic, which featured the Argos and Alouettes in Moncton, was also a Toronto home game, and attendance was 10,126. It apparently drew a nice mix of Toronto, Montreal and local supporters.

However, the stands in Halifax might well be awash in a sea of green and white, so good on the Argos if they are indeed taking one for the team; the Schooners that is.

A CFL source said SSE will act as the local hosts for the event and principal Bruce Bowser will head up a steering committee whose responsibility is limited to building out a mini Grey Cup festival to be held downtown in conjunction with the game. Situated on pedestrian friendly Argyle Street, which is flush with outdoor dining spots and live music, the festival will include family friendly activities and displays, food and entertainment, as well as the rather legendary Riderville venue, where the odd Pilsener will be served, and spilled.

Word is the Riders will be coming to Halifax earlier than they would normally travel to a regular road game destination, to help whip up a football frenzy. The league is clearly trying to stack the deck in their favour, and that of SSE. Makes sense.

With Bowser out front on the committee, SSE maintains a valuable football presence in the community they hope to call home sooner than later. What’s more, it will also allow fellow SSE principal Anthony LeBlanc to concentrate on moving forward with the stadium deal funding.

Word is LeBlanc has had productive discussions with the Nova Scotia government, talking about options for provincial involvement in the building of a stadium, but SSE has yet to present a formal proposal to the province.

SSE has secured a pledge of $20 million from Halifax Regional Municipality, payable on substantial completion of stadium construction. It was a crucial piece of financial backing and will be leveraged as SSE needs to tap the province, perhaps the federal government, and a lending institution to flesh out the remaining $80 million required to build their vision.

The stadium and the franchise is obviously years from coming to fruition, and in the meantime, the CFL is wise to continue leaving a footprint in the Maritimes each season. It was also necessary to move this game away from Moncton, where a Touchdown Atlantic game has been played five times.

Though they will be Atlantic Canada’s team, their home will be in Halifax and they need to grow their local presence.

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  #1402  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2020, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by L'homard View Post
Remember, the league wants a bare minimum 200000 seat facility,
Despite your typo, is it written down anywhere that the CFL requires 20K min.? A third of the league doesn't draw this number.
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  #1403  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 12:44 AM
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I wonder what changed. LeBlanc was very adamant in interviews last summer that they fully expected the Schooners to start play in 2021 specifically, and in Moncton. I've even heard rumours that there was an exclusivity deal in place for summer access to Medavie in 2021 and 2022 (probably to keep CPL out?)

If the relationship between Schooners and Moncton is in fact dead and buried, have Schooners announced a revised timeline for expansion? Tough to imagine anything happening before 2023 other than these Touchdown Atlantic type games unless Moncton is involved.
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  #1404  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by SevenSquared View Post
I've even heard rumours that there was an exclusivity deal in place for summer access to Medavie in 2021 and 2022 (probably to keep CPL out?)
CPL in Moncton isn't at a serious enough place to cause any reason for this I would think. They're lacking an ownership group with any serious funding, among other things.

Interesting if they had that deal sorted out, though, regardless.

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Originally Posted by SevenSquared View Post
I wonder what changed. LeBlanc was very adamant in interviews last summer that they fully expected the Schooners to start play in 2021 specifically, and in Moncton.
I wouldn't put much on LeBlanc's commitments to timelines he sets.
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  #1405  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 1:04 AM
SevenSquared SevenSquared is offline
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Originally Posted by JHikka View Post
CPL in Moncton isn't at a serious enough place to cause any reason for this I would think. They're lacking an ownership group with any serious funding, among other things.
Not from what I've been hearing... far from it actually. In fact if SSE is indeed out of the picture, I'd be shocked if there isn't a team here by 2022 unless the league collapses.
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  #1406  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 1:27 AM
L'homard L'homard is offline
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Originally Posted by JHikka View Post
Despite your typo, is it written down anywhere that the CFL requires 20K min.? A third of the league doesn't draw this number.
I remember LeBlanc saying this in the media, I believe more than once, in reference to the short-lived notion of Moncton getting a team. I will see if I can find the quote.
And thanks for the heads up on the typo. That's what I get for not wearing my glasses.
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  #1407  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 1:35 AM
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  #1408  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 2:18 AM
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Originally Posted by JHikka View Post
Despite your typo, is it written down anywhere that the CFL requires 20K min.? A third of the league doesn't draw this number.

[QUOTE]Commissioner Cohon, 2008 CBC - Cohon said the main obstacle to Maritime expansion is the lack of a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 20,000.

Commissioner Cohon, 2009 Sportsnet - Cohon re-iterated again the biggest hurdle regarding this is the lack of a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 20,000.

Commissioner Wright, 2005 Globe and Mail - A fifth team in the East would accomplish that, but the obstacle to landing a franchise has always been lack of a stadium that seats at least 20,000.

Toronto Star, undated sports story - Moncton doesn't have a stadium, while St. Mary's Huskies Stadium in Halifax currently seats just 3,500. Plans call for enlargement to 5,000 with room for temporary bleachers that would bring capacity to 10,000. But there is no room to expand to the 25,000-seat minimum needed for the CFL. [/UNQUOTE]

I do notice that these quotes are all from 12 to 15 years ago, from the Wright/Cohon era. So things might have changed by now. I also remember when a Hamilton group was lobbying for a new stadium for that city a few years ago, they often quoted the CFL as demanding a 25,000 seat minimum stadium, though I cannot find any quotes of the CFL actually citing that higher figure. only of the group citing that higher number as being the league's minimum.
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  #1409  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 9:00 AM
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http://globalnews.ca/news/6918612/co...-commissioner/

With the CFL season in the wind and the league itself in trouble what are the odds Halifax will still be looking at a team in the near future?
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  #1410  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 12:58 PM
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Priority at this point is ensuring there even is a CFL in 2021. League lost $20M collectively in 2019 and likely won't survive a seasonless 2020.
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  #1411  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 1:07 PM
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Originally Posted by JHikka View Post
Priority at this point is ensuring there even is a CFL in 2021. League lost $20M collectively in 2019 and likely won't survive a seasonless 2020.
At present, I am rather relieved that Moncton lost out to Halifax in the CFL competition. The soap opera with Anthony LeBlanc has been entertaining to watch from the sidelines, and now with the coronavirus is most definitely not the time to be looking at establishing a new franchise in the league.

I really want the league to survive, and hopefully it will, but there will be a lot of instability for at least the next few years. Maybe we should revisit CFL expansion to Halifax in 4-5 years time........
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  #1412  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 2:15 PM
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I briefly remember last week that the CFL was asking for $150 million in bailout money from the government and Trudeau seemed to be on board. I'm not following this story or the CFL, but perhaps there is some saving the CFL from collapsing.
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  #1413  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 2:24 PM
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As long as the CFL isn't too greedy, I suspect they'll be able to get the help to stay afloat through 2020. What they were asking for didn't seem too outlandish all things considered; though I'm sure people will bitch and moan about it.

As for Halifax's proposal, if they have a group to back it, they can probably still be on track just shifted down a year or three.

If the group isn't pushing hard, then Halifax's chances are probably going to get knocked into the 2030's at best.
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  #1414  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BlackYear View Post
I briefly remember last week that the CFL was asking for $150 million in bailout money from the government and Trudeau seemed to be on board. I'm not following this story or the CFL, but perhaps there is some saving the CFL from collapsing.
Trudeau was non-committal and just giving standard politician talk. We're in talks, we'll see, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeolas
As long as the CFL isn't too greedy, I suspect they'll be able to get the help to stay afloat through 2020. What they were asking for didn't seem too outlandish all things considered; though I'm sure people will bitch and moan about it.
Their ask was for non-repyable $150M for an entity that loses $20M/annum. It's not for me to decide but many of the CFL owners seem to be very wealthy and could pool together the money if they wanted to on their own.
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  #1415  
Old Posted May 8, 2020, 6:30 PM
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Yesterday I was polled on the subject of sports, and how much I miss sports, and would I support federal financial help for this or that professional sports league.
The questions seemed to indicate it was a federal poll or possibly Liberal Party of CXanada polling, and the slant of the questions seemed weighted towards what I felt towards handing over $150 million of taxpayer money to the CFL.
I'll probably never learn the results of the polling but if I do I'll let you folks know.
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  #1416  
Old Posted May 13, 2020, 9:40 AM
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Originally Posted by L'homard View Post
Yesterday I was polled on the subject of sports, and how much I miss sports, and would I support federal financial help for this or that professional sports league.
The questions seemed to indicate it was a federal poll or possibly Liberal Party of CXanada polling, and the slant of the questions seemed weighted towards what I felt towards handing over $150 million of taxpayer money to the CFL.
I'll probably never learn the results of the polling but if I do I'll let you folks know.

And here is the result of that poll:
http://angusreid.org/covid19-sports-empty-arenas/

Edit: Two noteworthy things about the poll results - Only 17 per cent of At;. Cdns. seem to give a shit about the CFL, by far the lowest percentage in Canada. Secondly, the poll contained the question about what responders thought about giving the CFL a taxpayer-funded bailout. I know the question was in there as I answered the question in this very poll. But the responses to that particular question are not mentioned in the above summary of the poll.
That's not terribly unusual. Sometimes someone pays to have people polled on a particular question and ask that the results not be released. It happens all the time, actually. Too bad though. I think I can guess the answer anyway.

Last edited by L'homard; May 13, 2020 at 4:18 PM.
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  #1417  
Old Posted May 20, 2020, 3:14 PM
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For anyone interested, the CFL is doing a virtual town hall today at 4pm ATL

CFL Townhall
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