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Maritime Football Ltd. eyeing Shannon Park for CFL stadium, planning season ticket drive: report

A football with the new CFL logo sits on a chair. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

A report to Halifax Regional Council says Shannon Park has been identified as the preferred location for a football stadium by Maritime Football, the group that’s working to bring a CFL team to the region.

The report says Maritime Football is in talks with Canada Lands Company Ltd. to purchase a 15 to 20 acre site for a stadium that will include a parking structure.

Founding partner of Maritime Football, Anthonly LeBlanc said that location has always been near the top of their list because of its location, and because of Canada Land’s plans to transform the area into a mixed use development where there will be both residential and a commercial component.

“[It’s] very intriguing to us because it enhances the experience of going to an event at an outdoor stadium,” he said.
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Council will discuss the report at its next meeting Oct. 30.

“If that is a successful meeting on Tuesday, our plan is that more than likely, the following week we’ll have a press conference where the commissioner will join us, the commissioner of the CFL,” explained LeBlanc.

At that point, he says they would hope to kick off a season ticket drive and a “name the team” contest.

The report pegs the estimated cost of the stadium development at between $170 million and $190 million.

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The report does not say how much funding council will be asking for. It calls the participation of the provincial government as a capital financing partner “essential.”

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The premier has previously said the province is not planning to cut a cheque for capital funding of a stadium.

“I am not going to be reaching into general revenue to build a football stadium,” Stephen McNeil told reporters in July.

READ MORE: N.S. premier says province will not use capital funding for CFL stadium

The province is reportedly open to participating through new revenue sources, however. The municipal report says two possible revenue streams have been identified: an increase to the hotel marketing levy tax and the development of a car rental tax. Both would require legislative changes by the provincial government.

The province would also be required to make a legislative change to the HRM Charter to allow the municipality to utilize a public financing model known as tax incremental funding, which the report identifies as a likely revenue source to fund the debt financing of the stadium. Without that funding, Leblanc admits it would be difficult to proceed.

“Unless there was some form of other means in which HRM could be involved, financially,” he said.

READ MORE: Halifax group pushing for CFL team hosts league commissioner

It’s far from a done deal; the report points out that Canada Lands has stated that “accommodating both a school site and a stadium is not their preferred outcome” for the area. The Halifax Regional Centre for Education has exercised its option to acquire the lands that contain Shannon Park School, but it has also indicated to the municipality that it plans to close the school and hand over the land to Canada Lands, according to the report.

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Canada Lands has told municipal staff that it needs to see “community support” for the stadium through an engagement process, and it needs the province and municipality to direct it to engage in discussions with Maritime Football.

A public engagement process could take between six weeks and three months, and planning approvals could take about six months to complete.

Shannon Park is 95 acres of land that was formerly used by the Department of National Defence. It was declared surplus in 2003 and taken over by Canada Lands in 2014. The council report also notes that Millbrook First Nation is acquiring about nine acres of land in Shannon Park.

LeBlanc says the goal is still to have a team on the field in Halifax by 2021, though he admits the process has been lengthier than he originally anticipated.  Depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, LeBlanc says their plan now is get shovels in the ground by next summer.

 

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