The CFL has announced that on Aug. 25, the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes will do battle at the 16,000-seat Moncton Stadium.
This will be the fourth time Moncton hosts CFL action and the first in six years, but with a Halifax franchise all but official, many expected the future home of the Atlantic Schooners would be the one to host the latest installment of the Touchdown Atlantic series.
Founding member of the ownership group trying to bring a team to Halifax says that while stadium troubles played a role in the decision, they were far from the only factor.
“First off, we have been very clear from the beginning that our endeavor has to be a regional team. It has to be, I’ve said from Edmunston to Saint John’s. So having events and doing things, and having touch points in various parts of the Atlantic provinces is going to be important for us,” said Anthony LeBlanc, a founding member of Schooners Sports and Entertainment.
“But yes, at the end of the day you also need a stadium that is available to host an event like this in the short term basis and unfortunately we did look in Halifax at Saint Mary’s University but it just wasn’t expandable to the point that it would have made sense.”
When asked if he would rather see the game played in Halifax CFL commissioner, Randy Ambrosie also highlighted the importance of creating a regional culture of support for any potential franchise, citing the Saskatchew Roughriders as a prime example.
“Actually not at all. I think the idea of having it here is aligned with the idea that this team will not belong to one city, it has to belong to the whole region,” he said.
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Beyond an attempt to build regional interest and the lack of a stadium in Nova Scotia, there’s another, more practical reason to have the game in Moncton: it could be the interim home of the Atlantic Schooners.
“Once we have confirmation that we have a stadium funded and getting ready to be built we definitely want to explore the concept of playing an initial season or two here in Moncton,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc was careful to stress that the idea is contingent on securing a stadium in Halifax and would not say if the group would consider making Moncton the franchise’s permanent home.
All Leblanc would say is that there is a “long future for Moncton and the CFL.”