Slow sales lead to slashed prices for Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton

Anthony LeBlanc, Founding Partner, Schooners Sports and Entertainment, speaks at a press conference in Moncton, N.B., on Friday, March 29, 2019. The Canadian Press/Ron Ward

Tickets for the upcoming CFL regular season game in Moncton will now cost as little as $29, including taxes and fees, and customers who bought tickets at the original prices are being offered refunds.

The cheapest tickets were originally on sale for nearly three times that much, at $78 plus some extra fees. Schooners Sports and Entertainment co-founder Anthony LeBlanc said about one-third of the roughly 20,000 tickets were sold in the first day, “but then we started hearing that people were looking for a more affordable ticket.”

“When we looked and saw that the entry level point was $89, that’s just not commercial with CFL tickets,” LeBlanc said.

The Schooners have now secured a number of sponsors for the August 25 matchup between the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes.

“You don’t have many do-overs in life, but if you recognize that you haven’t done something correctly I think you have to be smart and go ahead and fix it,” LeBlanc said.

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People who already bought tickets will be contacted by customer service within two weeks, and offered either a credit toward more tickets, a credit toward a deposit on Atlantic Schooners season tickets, or a refund.

LeBlanc said his team has heard from fans, and has now compared its prices to other CFL regular season games and other events in the Atlantic region.

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The $29 price is more in line with tickets for regular season games in CFL markets. That ticket is for a newly created “family zone” with picnic style seating, which includes a hot dog and drink. There’s also a party zone with standing room only for fans over 19.

The Schooners are now selling bus tickets to the game from other Maritime cities. A round-trip from Halifax will cost fans $33, while a trip from Fredericton costs $50. LeBlanc said he believes thousands of bus tickets could be sold.

“We didn’t start this process for one game. This game is important to us, and we want this to be a success, but more than anything we want to start showing everybody in the area what CFL football is like.”

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Schooners Sports and Entertainment is hoping to bring an expansion team to Halifax within the next couple of years. But progress on building a stadium and securing government funding has been slow.

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LeBlanc said he would like for Halifax Regional Council to have a staff report on the Schooners business plan by the end of the year, but acknowledges he does not have a timeline.

“We’re working very closely with Canada Lands Company, as a matter of fact I’m back in Halifax this coming week, sitting down with Canada Lands along with a number of third-party expert organizations that we have collectively brought on board to help us do the expert analysis that needs to be done before this gets taken to HRM,” he said.

Canada Lands owns Shannon Park, the former site of military housing on the Dartmouth side of the Halifax harbour, which Schooners Sports and Entertainment is eyeing as the site of its future 24,000-seat stadium.

The cost for building the stadium is estimated to be between $170 million and $190 million. The Schooners are expected to submit a business plan formally seeking funding from the Halifax Regional Municipality and the province, and have hired a lobbyist to ask the federal government to chip in.

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“At the end of the day we have one real shot at this,” LeBlanc said.

“So there’s no question that this is taking longer than anybody anticipated, certainly it can be frustrating but at the same time you’ve got to make sure that whatever is delivered is fully baked.”

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