Schooners, Admirals, Storm: Suggestions roll in for Halifax CFL team

Schooners, Admirals, Storm: Suggestions roll in for Halifax CFL team
Halifax CFL group launches ticket drive
Atlantic Canadians can demonstrate their hunger for a Canadian Football League franchise in Nova Scotia by putting down $50 deposits on season tickets for what would be the CFLs tenth franchise.

That announcement was made Wednesday by representatives of Maritime Football Ltd., the group of prospective owners whove been working with the CFL and regional government for more than a year on a project to build a 24,000-seat stadium in Shannon Park on the east side of Halifax Harbour.

It was also announced that those putting down deposits can vote for one of four proposed team names – Atlantic Convoy, Schooners, Storm or Admirals – or submit their own suggestion.

Maritime Football LTD. announces season ticket drive for potential team

The team name will be selected by the ownership group, with fan input and response being a significant consideration. The winning entry will be announced at the East Coast Kitchen Party on Friday of Grey Cup week in Edmonton.

At last month's meeting, Halifax CAO Jacques Dubé​ assured councillors the municipality would not own the stadium and would not be responsible for the debt, but work on a recommended financial arrangement is just getting underway.

The question now becomes: What number of season ticket deposits would demonstrate strong support for the CFL?

Anthony Leblanc of Maritime Football Ltd who, along with partner Bruce Bowser, was in Halifax with CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, said he expects that at least half of the stadium would be filled by season ticket holders.

Maritime Football Partnership wants to bring a CFL team to Halifax. Founding partner Anthony LeBlanc has said building a $190-million stadium will require help from the municipality, province and even federal government.

But given the minimal financial commitment required at this time, and the fact that such exercises are usually viewed an opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm in the market, its possible anything less than 15,000 might be seen as a disappointment.

In September, the Manitoba government wrote off the second of two loans to build a new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In total, $200 million has been written off and added to the province's debt.

The number of season ticket members is something that we understand will grow with time and, look, theres an onus on us to go out and do our job and sell the vision, Leblanc said. But I am encouraged with what I have heard people saying to me over the past year as weve been going through this process. This is now an opportunity for people to really take action.

Leblanc said his group is continuing to look at ways to expand the use of a proposed new stadium beyond a CFL team, including designing an outdoor amphitheatre into the facility for concerts and considering either a dome for year-round use or the possibility of an outdoor rink in winter for hockey and public skating.

The financing arrangement for the Investors Group stadium in Winnipeg was overly complex, according to the Prairies director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

In a recent report, the group proposed funding the stadium, which is expected to cost $170 million to $190 million, with measures that wouldnt require diverting current tax revenues at the local or provincial levels.

It will be several more months before Halifax regional council receives a business analysis and final proposal to fund the stadium in concert with the provincial government.

“We are going to be doing everything we can to get these last few hurdles crossed so that we can get to the finish line,” Ambrosie said.

“The most important question and the biggest elephant in the room is a place to play,” Anthony LeBlanc, one of three principal partners in Maritime Football Ltd., told a group of government officials and media at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Saint Mary’s University to launch season-ticket and name-the-team drives.

"What went wrong in Winnipeg?" asked Coun. Tim Outhit. "And here in Halifax who would own the debt?"

The Atlantic Schooners, the Admirals, the Storm — a few of the names bandied about by LeBlanc at the news conference — need a field to call home.

HALIFAX, NS — Maritime Football Limited Partnership (MFLP), along with Canadian Football League (CFL) Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, have launched a season ticket drive and name the team contest at Saint Marys University in Halifax. The Wednesday announcement is part of an ongoing process to gauge interest for a CFL franchise in Atlantic Canada.

“For this to become a reality, we have to have a stadium,” LeBlanc said. “We have started those conversations with Halifax Regional Municipality, with the province. We have been working an enormous amount of time on finding the right location. It took us longer than we expected but we couldn’t be happier with where we are right now.”

Available for purchase now, season ticket deposits are $50.00 per package and the deposit will place fans on a priority list for season ticket membership and seat selection on a first come, first served basis. Season tickets are in high demand and fans are encouraged to make their deposits quickly in order to secure their preferred seats.

Where they are right now is Shannon Park. The group had previously announced it was negotiating with Canada Lands Company, the Crown corporation tasked with remediating and dispersing surplus military property, to secure an eight-hectare piece of land in Dartmouth’s Shannon Park on which to build a $190-million 24,000-seat stadium.

The ownership group plans to contribute a significant amount of private capital toward the purchase of the Shannon Park property and has approached HRM with a tax increment financing proposition in which the new stadium would provide a catalyst for other development in the park, with much of the property tax for the stadium and other developments being deferred to finance the stadium.

Municipal staff will do a number-crunching study and return to council with a recommendation in about six months.

Bruce Bowser, another principle Maritime Football Ltd. partner, said Shannon Park was his preferred site from Day 1.

With a season ticket deposit drive in full swing, CFL.ca’s senior writer Chris O’Leary chats with Anthony LaBlanc, one of the men charged with trying to bring a CFL franchise to the Maritimes … READ MORE.

“I grew up in the Shannon Park community, my father was in the military,” Bowser said of the site that had been used for military housing for a half-century before the federal Defence Department declared it surplus in 2003.

Ticket prices will be announced well in advance of the clubs inaugural season. Partners aim to have players on the field as early as 2020.

Bowser, president of AMJ Campbell Van Lines who now lives in Toronto, said the harbourside location could follow the the Lansdowne Park model, a 16-hectare urban park, sports, exhibition and entertainment facility in Ottawa that also provides a stadium for the CFL’s Redblacks to play.

“They’ve taken the whole notion of having a stadium outside of the city and put in a prime piece of land, which I think Shannon Park is. It’s on the waterfront. I use this notion of live, work and play. I can see a future where you have a football stadium anchoring a beautiful piece of land, with parkland around there, residential, condominiums and townhouses being built by the waterfront, restaurants making it a fun place to be.”

“We are here today to announce that we are kicking off a season-ticket drive as well as an opportunity to name Atlantic Canada’s future CFL team,” LeBlanc said.

Fans can make a $50 deposit as of Wednesday to Ticketmaster.ca, ensuring them a place on the priority list for seat selection on a first-come, first-served basis. There’s a limit of 10 season tickets per account. A season-ticket membership also secures a ticket discount of 20 per cent to 40 per cent over the single-game ticket price.

LeBlanc said ticket prices will be announced in advance of the club’s inaugural season but he has hinted that tickets will range from $25 to $30 for a single ticket in the upper deck to several hundred dollars for club seating. The goal is to sell at least half the stadium seats as season tickets.

“If you make a season-ticket deposit, you’ll also be able to participate in selecting the name for Canada’s next CFL team,” LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc had previously said the team will be named Atlantic, followed by another name to be determined. Fans will be provided with a short list of four options — Admirals, Convoy, Schooners and Storm — as well as the opportunity to submit their own favourite name.

LeBlanc and company plan on announcing the team name on Nov. 23 at a Grey Cup party in Edmonton, simulcast back to Halifax. Those who select the winning team name will be entered into a pot and one person’s name will be drawn and awarded two lifetime season tickets.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie said a CFL team in Halifax is the unfinished piece of business that has been on the hearts and minds of Canadian football fans for decades, “the opportunity to truly be a coast-to-coast league, to have that 10th franchise, to end up having two five-team divisions.”

LeBlanc said he will have a more concrete financial proposal to bring to city staff in the next three or four weeks. He said a stadium will take about 18 to 22 months to build, generating an estimated $137-million contribution to the municipality’s gross domestic product during construction, including $103 million in labour income.

LeBlanc said it is imperative that the stadium be used 12 months of the year and suggested two ideas to make that happen — a full-time ice rink in the centre of the field from Dec. 1 on that could be used for public skating and hockey programs or a dome that could accommodate other indoor sports.

LeBlanc said the goal is to field a team by 2021, with the possibility of starting a season in Moncton while the Halifax stadium is under construction.