Touchdown: CFL commissioner announces plans for Halifax franchise
Randy Ambrosie told overjoyed Halifax crowd a concrete plan is expected within a few months.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Randy Ambrosie finished his cross-country CFL road trip in Halifax on Friday where he announced they’re planning a football franchise for the city.
No site location has yet been chosen, and Ambrosie said they’ll have a more concrete plan within the next few months.
He also said there is no timeline or pressure for when the team will be formed, and it’ll be "a couple of years" before a stadium is built.
"We will be thorough and thoughtful. You measure twice and cut once," he told a crowd gathered for the announcement in Halifax on Friday.
"It is about doing it right and making a franchise that will benefit this region for decades to come."
Partners of Maritime Football Limited (MFL) began thinking about the possibility of a local franchise about a year ago.
Founding partners of the MFL, Anthony LeBlanc and Bruce Bowser, joined Ambrosie on stage while making the announcement.
“The project is all about development around the game and the team. We need to keep the momentum going and get the ball down the field,” said LeBlanc.
Although no details about a site for the stadium were provided, Bowser hinted that it would likely not be in or around downtown Halifax.
Bowser also told the crowd that the stadium will likely cost between $150 to $250 million – seating approximately 24,000 fans.
“One thing I heard from the mayor and premier is that this project has to be private sector funded,” said LeBlanc.
“They are not saying they will not be involved, just that we have to lead the project.”
CFL stadiums across the country have relied on public funding and government assistance in their construction.
LeBlanc reassured the audience they “are not looking to take money out of tax payers pockets” amidst a few questions from audience members regarding the finances of the project.
The commissioner said that along with the exciting possibility of an Atlantic franchise, the organization is working hard to ensure the league is inclusive to all and that stadium seats are filled.
“This is more than a team. This is about more events and concerts coming to the area and hopefully helping the local economy,” said LeBlanc.
Bowser and LeBlanc also spoke to the importance of this being a regional team they hope will draw crowds from all over the Maritimes.
“If IKEA can pull as many people from all over the region like it does, we think a football team will too,” said LeBlanc.
For this reason, the team will not be called “The Halifax____” but rather “The Atlantic____,” explained Bowser.
The Canadian Football League Commissioner’s ten-stop tour concluded with an appearance in front of an excited crowd at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel in downtown Halifax.
Halifax was the only non-franchise city on Ambrosie’s national tour.
“We have the opportunity to be the most inclusive sports league in the country. Football belongs to all of Canada," he said.
“The stars have aligned and we do not have a completed CFL until we have a team in Atlantic Canada. I believe in my heart this franchise will happen.”