Halifax Regional Municipality is recommending that it contribute $20 million towards the cost of a community stadium proposed by Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE), but it is not recommending it to be built at Shannon Park.
A report submitted to the mayor and regional council by CAO Jacques Dubé and posted online Friday cites a number of issues with the proposed Shannon Park site.
Over the past two years, HRM staff have been engaged in discussions with SSE regarding the possibility of a stadium and a CFL team for HRM. SSE has been awarded a conditional CFL franchise, the Halifax Schooners.
On Oct. 30, 2018, staff presented council with an update on discussions with the ownership group SSE, formerly known as Maritime Football Limited Partnership, regarding a CFL stadium with a 24,000 permanent seating capacity at Shannon Park and a construction cost in the range of $170 million to $190 million, but ongoing debate on financing costs led HRM to request updated proposals.
As a result, SSE presented HRM staff in August with a new proposal for a community stadium in the cost range of $100 million to $110 million with 12,000 permanent seats and 12,000 temporary seats.
According to HRM, a community stadium is a smaller-scale stadium in terms of cost and reduced permanent seating that would have the capacity to accommodate a professional football team, major events, and municipal and provincial recreation programming.
However, HRM listed several reasons for not supporting the site, which include that Shannon Park is not conducive to a robust transportation plan and would require an extensive public transportation investment.
A community stadium at the site could also necessitate HRM investment in a new ferry terminal and ferries, which would cost up to $20 million.
Moreover, the proposal for Shannon Park as a site does not include an associated developer. Thus, there is no proper analysis or advice on what infrastructure is needed from a transportation and storm/wastewater perspective, as stated by the report.
Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of Schooner Sports and Entertainment said in a e-mailed statement on Friday that SSE “welcomes the recommendation received from Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) staff today to support the development of a community stadium.”
“We look forward to receiving HRM Council’s decision on whether to approve this recommendation and we stand ready to work diligently with staff and the community to ensure the success of this game-changing community development,” it added.
The report states that the CAO and his staff team have been very clear over the last two years that HRM is not interested in stadium ownership or sharing ongoing capital and maintenance costs and that HRM would not take on any risk with respect to the tax increment financing (TIF) or operation of the stadium.