Halifax’s proposed CFL franchise now has a name — the Atlantic Schooners.
“I’m happy to announce that the 10th team in the CFL will be known as the Atlantic Schooners,” John Ryerson announced to thunderous cheers from hundreds of fans Friday night.
Ryerson spoke at the annual Grey Cup East Coast Kitchen Party. He is the organizer of this longtime Grey Cup social, designed to bring an East Coast flavour to Canada’s big game.
Schooners beat out other suggestions such as Atlantic Convoy, Storm, and Admirals.
It was picked in a contest and already has a history. The Schooners was to be the name for a proposed CFL team in the 1980s, but that dream never materialized.
Fans at the Kitchen Party said it was the right choice.
“I love the name. I was hoping it was going to stay Schooners,” said Daryl Shipman from Winnipeg, clad in a blue Schooners jersey.
“It epitomizes the East Coast, sailing ships, and the Maritime aspect of it.”
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Leslie-Anne McKenzie of Calgary, also in Schooner Blue, agreed.
“(It’s) absolutely the right name. This is excellent news for the league,” she said.
“The Schooners only makes sense because it’s history.”
Next up is getting a place to play.
The Maritime Football Partnership, which is pursuing the bid, is eyeing a parcel of land on the east side of Halifax harbour for a 24,000-seat facility. The cost is estimated at $170 million to $190 million and the group has said it will need public help with the financing.
So far more than 5,000 fans have put down season ticket deposits.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the CFL is keen to have Halifax become its 10th franchise.
Earlier Friday, speaking to reporters, Ambrosie said the league has signed a step-by-step agreement of what needs to be accomplished to get the franchise launched.
“Ultimately, the big hurdle is the stadium,” said Ambrosie.
But he stressed the willingness is there.
“We’re totally committed to their efforts get that 10th team,” he said.
“For many of us, that’s been a dream now for decades the idea of this truly coast to coast Canadian football league.”
Storied Halifax nevertheless will likely send CFL players running to their atlases, according to a random, unscientific poll of Grey Cup participants in Edmonton.
“(It’s the) first time I heard about Halifax to be honest with you,” said Ottawa Redlbacks receiver R.J. Harris.
“I don’t know anything about it.”
Ottawa slotback Dominique Rhymes, from Miami, had heard good things about the entertainment scene.
“I heard the night life is pretty good,” he said. “I’ve never been, but I think I might go in the coming months.”
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Calgary Stampeders linebacker Jamar Wall, from Texas, said “I don’t know anything about Halifax.
“I’ll probably be long gone before that (franchise) happens, but good luck to the guys who could potentially be there.”