SSE will attempt to host NHL Heritage Classic — if Halifax builds CFL stadium

Anthony LeBlanc, Founding Partner, Schooners Sports and Entertainment, speaks at a press conference in Moncton, N.B., on Friday, March 29, 2019. The federal Crown corporation that owns the land in Halifax where a stadium could be built for a proposed CFL franchise confirmed today that more public consultations will be held. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

The organization attempting to bring a CFL franchise to Halifax says they are prepared to submit a bid to host an NHL Heritage Classic game in Halifax if city council votes to approve the construction of a CFL stadium.

“Immediately after a [successful] vote… we will send in a bid for a Heritage Classic game,” Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE), told Global News on Wednesday in a phone interview.

“[An event like the Heritage Classic] illustrates the potential benefits of a stadium of that size.”

Discussions about hosting an NHL Heritage Classic game in Halifax began a year ago, LeBlanc said

Future of proposed stadium to be decided in December

An attempt to kill the proposed stadium was voted down by Halifax regional council in October.

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Municipal staff have been conducting analysis on SSE’s proposal with negotiation between the municipality and SSE ongoing.

A staff recommendation for council is expected sometime in December.

The proposed venue would be used for football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse and other sports, in partnership with Sport Nova Scotia, when not being used by the CFL.

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Parking at the location would also be limited under SSE’s proposal. Only 361 general parking spots with an additional 58 spots for VIP are included in the proposal.

But SSE estimates about 10,000 people will attend games by taking public transit.

According to the proposal, the CFL has guaranteed that SSE will host at least one Grey Cup in the team’s first 10 years of existence.

Click to play video: 'Negotiations continue between HRM and the Schooner Sports and Entertainment group regarding CFL stadium'
Negotiations continue between HRM and the Schooner Sports and Entertainment group regarding CFL stadium

SSE optimistic for proposed stadium

LeBlanc said he’s much more optimistic about the $110-million stadium proposal than one would expect.

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He said he’s noticed that social media has been negative about the future of the proposed 24,000-seat stadium in Dartmouth’s Shannon Park. Some people, he said, have been sharing outright “misinformation” about the proposed deal.

“But the onus is on us to change that,” said LeBlanc, adding that Haligonians should expect his organization to roll out a new campaign in the coming weeks.

LeBlanc said that SSE is planning to meet with Halifax regional councillors over the next week in order to discuss with them about what they’d like to see incorporated into the stadium.

The NHL Heritage Classic has been a special regular-season game hosted in an outdoor rink.

The most recent event was held last month at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, between the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames.  The Jets won the game 2 to 1 over the Flames.

Click to play video: 'NHL takes over Regina for Heritage Classic weekend'
NHL takes over Regina for Heritage Classic weekend

The men behind SSE are no strangers to Gary Bettman and NHL leadership.

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LeBlanc and his business partner, Gary Drummond,  were executives and part-owners of the Arizona Coyotes NHL franchise.

They were bought out by the team’s majority shareholder Andrew Barroway in 2017.

LeBlanc and Drummond would go on to create SSE with the goal of bringing a CFL franchise to Halifax.

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