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Halifax moves forward with effort to take CFL to Nova Scotia

The City of Halifax has unanimously voted in favour of pursuing the development of a 24,000-seat multi-purpose stadium that would house a proposed expansion franchise in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

The Maritime Football Limited Partnership is leading the effort to secure a team in the American football league for the provincial capital of Nova Scotia. City council yesterday (Tuesday) voted 15-0 in favour of directing municipal staff to conduct a thorough review of the business case put forward by Maritime Football.

The Canadian Press news agency said city staff are also expected to seek changes to the city’s charter that could grant a special tax arrangement and aid debt financing of the project. “There’s a lot of people that want a stadium at any cost, there are a lot of people that don’t want a stadium at any cost, I want a stadium at the right cost,” Mayor Mike Savage said. “So that’s what I want to see when this comes back, is it the right cost?”

With a price tag of up to C$190m (£113.5m/€127.9m/$144.6m), the stadium has been earmarked for Shannon Park on the east side of Halifax harbour. Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of Maritime Football, expressed confidence that his group would be able to continue to work with city staff, the province, landowner Canada Lands Company, and the Millbrook First Nation so long as there was a mutual understanding of the “shared risk”.

LeBlanc said Maritime Football would bear responsibility for the stadium, with the city not interested in owning it. He added: “They are not averse to being involved as financial partners because they see the value a stadium brings, but their biggest concern was the ongoing risk of operating a facility. We understand that; it’s not our only contribution but it will be our main contribution.”

Meanwhile, Jacques Dube, chief administrative officer of Halifax Regional Municipality, stressed that the stadium wouldn’t purely serve as a home for a CFL team, with the facility looked upon as a destination for a variety of sporting events, concerts and cultural celebrations. “This project is an estimated half-a-billion-dollar real estate development that includes a stadium,” he said.

Image: Tourism Nova Scotia