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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mayor Mike Savage is chasing the stadium dream

Talks with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon about bringing an expansion team to Halifax.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 12:17 PM

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Halifax Mayor Mike Savage confirms he has met with CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon n June, in Toronto, to discuss the possible expansion of the CFL into the Maritimes. A new CFL team starting in Halifax would require a government-financed stadium, says Savage.

“We just chatted about the CFL,” continues Savage. “[Cohon] explained, as I already knew, that he sees the CFL, which is now a nine-team league with the resurgence of Ottawa, as being a 10-team league. They want to be coast-to-coast, and they think it’s not likely to be St. John’s---it’s going to be Moncton or Halifax, and there’s a lot of advantages to Halifax, and what did I think?”

Cohon told Savage that a Halifax CFL would require a stadium of 20-25,000 seats.

Last year, after spending about $500,000 studying it, Halifax council aborted an attempt to build such a stadium for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015. But Savage is still a stadium advocate. Besides the 10 home games that a CFL team would have, a stadium could be used for “the Indigenous Games, the Senior Games, the Gay Games, there’s all kinds of games, that you could have opening ceremonies that would require a large amount of capacity,” says Savage. “Not just games, but also concerts. There are a lot of uses for a stadium. It wouldn’t be just for a CFL team.”

Savage sees a local team being started by a “number of locally owned companies and maybe a couple of national companies,” sharing ownership.

Would the CFL pay anything for construction of a stadium? “I don’t think so,” says Savage. He points at the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a model for a Halifax team. Regina is now constructing a 33,000-seat stadium for the Roughriders, costing $278 million. Of that, the Roughriders are contributing $25 million, the city of Regina $73 million, the province of Saskatchewan $80 million. The remaining $100 million comes via a provincial loan to the city, paid off over 30 years by a $8-12 ticket surcharge. Additionally, the city has earmarked another $200 million in maintenance and rehab costs for the stadium, over 30 years

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