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Timeline for Atlantic team would put ‘undue pressure’ on management group: CFL commissioner

The lights will soon be beaming down on a CFL game in Moncton, but also on the management group who is trying to bring a team to the region despite no business plan yet in place. Callum Smith explains.

There’s less than one month time until a CFL game will be held in New Brunswick’s ‘Hub City.’

While Moncton is playing host to the game between the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts, called Touchdown Atlantic, the league commissioner and proponents trying to bring a team to Halifax say the team is for the Atlantic region.

Randy Ambrosie, the commissioner of the CFL, says there’s no timeline on when a team could be ready for action, but he did express support for playing a season or two in Moncton until a stadium is ready in Halifax.

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

Ticket prices originally started at $78 plus fees, but were slashed early this month after a slow start sales.

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Anthony LeBlanc, a founding partner of Schooners Sports and Entertainment, says with the clock ticking and the reduction in prices, “ticket sales have started to pick up.”

Anthony LeBlanc, a founding parter of Schooners Sports and Entertainment, says roughly half of an expected 10,000-plus fans have already purchased tickets
Anthony LeBlanc, a founding parter of Schooners Sports and Entertainment, says roughly half of an expected 10,000-plus fans have already purchased tickets Callum Smith / Global News

They’ve decided not to add temporary seating because it would be expensive and drive up ticket prices, according to LeBlanc, who is expecting there will be over 10,000 people in attendance when the game kicks off August 25.

When asked about how many tickets have been sold to-date, LeBlanc said, “I’d say we’re about halfway towards our goal.”

“We’re really starting to see a ramp-up in the energy,” he said.

READ MORE: Halifax still waiting on business plan from company behind CFL bid

Ambrosie and LeBlanc were in Moncton to speak with reporters and to visit Croix Bleue Medavie Stadium on the campus of Université de Moncton.

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The proposed Atlantic Schooners team is expected to be based in the Halifax area, with the Shannon Park location picked for a stadium, but there is still no business plan as the group tries to secure the land deal with owner, Canada Lands.

The commissioner says he’s avoiding a timeline because it would put “undue pressure” on the management team.

“I want them to be here when they’re ready to be here and they don’t have to do that a day sooner,” Ambrosie says.

Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner, says the league would support the Atlantic region’s team starting in Moncton for a couple seasons while a land deal is finalized in the Halifax area
Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner, says the league would support the Atlantic region’s team starting in Moncton for a couple seasons while a land deal is finalized in the Halifax area Callu m Smith / Global News

While things aren’t moving as quick as everyone would like, Ambrosie says the league is fully committed to the management group.

“My confidence in this management group is 10-out-of-10,” he says.

But he did say the league would support the team playing in Moncton while a stadium deal is worked out in Halifax.

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WATCH: The Touchdown Atlantic Game is a month away and some city councilors are concerned organizers need financial contribution. Callum Smith has more.

City of Moncton on the hook for $55,000 dollars for upcoming CFL game
City of Moncton on the hook for $55,000 dollars for upcoming CFL game

“If it was the will of this group to play the early season or two here in Moncton, we would support that,” says Ambrosie.

Moncton city councillors committed up to $55-thousand, depending on ticket sales, to install required turf end zones a week ago, but LeBlanc says the city has known about the need for those for at least nine months.

Along with the reduction in ticket prices, the time of the game was also changed to be more accessible.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. August 25.

Ambrosie says the dream of having a coast-to-coast league has been a dream of CFL fans across the country, and invites anyone to attend the game in Moncton.

-With files from Sarah Ritchie

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