Moncton city council has committed as much $55,000 to next month’s regular-season CFL game to help cover the cost to set up the end-zones at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium.
The decision came after a brief meeting behind closed doors following Monday’s council meeting.
“The numbers started coming in, and we were also told that we would have to pay for the end-zones,” Coun. Paul Pellerin said Tuesday.
The City of Moncton had not had any financial commitment — just in-kind services — for the Touchdown Atlantic event scheduled for Aug. 25, when Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes are set to face off.
The original plan was for the city to offer their venue, the 16,000-seat Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium, while Schooners Sports and Entertainment would organize the event and logistics.
But the decision by council on Monday changes the equation.
Moncton will now foot the bill to install the sections of end-zone turf for the stadium, which are needed to reach the size of a standard CFL field.
The city has owned the turf since 2010 but doesn’t have anyone on staff that can install it, so they’ll be hiring a third party to carry out the specialized work.
Moncton says the agreement is tied to ticket sales, which will allow the Schooners Sports and Entertainment to recover some of the costs.
“Once the game is done, we will know where the city stands,” said Isabelle Leblanc, director of communications for the City of Moncton.
“It’s highly likely that the promoter will pay some or all of the $55,000 cost.”
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But in July, ticket prices were slashed for the first game to be played in Atlantic Canada since 2013.
Tickets 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.
Pellerin told Global News on Monday that he’s also concerned about the cost of in-kind services, such as staff time and city equipment
“Because it was in a private session, basically I’m not going to say allowed, but I’m not permitted to discuss it… but I was astonished by the amount to tell you truthfully,” he said.
Three councillors voted against the proposal, saying they support the idea of a CFL game in Moncton but have concerns over the costs.
Shawn Crossman was one of the councillors who opposed providing the $55,000.
“Unfortunately, I’m sure that any shortfall would have been foreseen well before yesterday’s meeting at council, and those should have been discussions that council had prior to yesterday,” Crossman said on Monday.
Schooners Sports and Entertainment is hoping to bring a CFL expansion team to Halifax within the next couple of years.
The Touchdown Atlantic event is widely understood to be an effort to drum up support throughout Atlantic Canada for the potential team.
But progress on building a stadium in Halifax and securing government funding has been slow.
Schooners Sports and Entertainment has been eyeing Shannon Park, the former site of military housing on the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour, as the site of its future 24,000-seat stadium.
The cost of 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.
Global News reached out to Schooner Sports and Entertainment, but no one was made available for comment.
— With files from Sarah Ritchie