The news of whether or not the CFL coming to the Maritimes is getting closer and closer each passing day. The Maritime Football group has officially taken the name of the Atlantic Schooners, and are awaiting the Halifax City Councile to complete their analysis on whether the city can support a new stadium in the Shannon Park area.
In the meantime the CFL has announced that the league will be playing a game on Sunday Aug. 25th in the Atlantic region between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes. In the previous games dubbed “Touchdown Atlantic”, the required seats needed for the event were in the ball park of 20,000.
Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE) advised back in December that they would be making an announcement by the end of January 2019 on where the game will be played. Let’s break down the possible stadiums prior to the announcement.
Saint Mary’s Huskie Stadium – Halifax, NS
Huskie Stadium is a beautiful stadium in the downtown core of Halifax, and advertises that it can hold 11,000 with temporary seating, while on regular game day it can seat 4000 fans. With the new arena being built at the university and the commons on the opposite end zone, I find it very surprising that they could put up seating for 11,000. As an AUS Football official, on most game days the SMU Huskies the regular crowd is closer to 1800 and seems pretty full from my perspective on the field.
Oland Stadium – St. FX University / Raymond Field – Acadia University
These stadiums are very similar so they are being grouped together. Both stadiums seat between 3500-4000 on game day and have plenty of space to put in the temporary seating necessary to possibly reach the 20,000 required. Although both locations face similar issues. St. FX is located in Antigonish, which is 215 KMs from Halifax with very limited hotel space, restaurants, and pubs to host the crowd that would come for a CFL Game. Acadia University is one hour from Halifax, and faces the same challenge
Wanderers Grounds – Halifax
This is the new location for the new Canadian Professional Soccer team. In June 2018, they were able to seat 6200 for a rugby match against the USA. The event was a huge success and being in the downtown Halifax region really added to the event. The problem with this stadium is where it is located, which adds restraints on expanding this stadium to the required 20,000 seats.
Canada Games Stadium – Saint John, NB
This is also a beautiful stadium and has plenty of surrounding land for expansion of its current capacity of 5000 seats. The biggest problem with this stadium is the access to its location. I have worked games at this field as an official and it can be a nightmare getting in and out of there, even with a much lesser crowd of the 5000. Should the city of Saint John be awarded the game, it would need to come up with a plan to make it easier for people to get to and from the stadium.
Stade Moncton Stadium – Moncton, NB
This stadium was opened in 2010 to host the IAAF World Junior Championships and currently has 10,000 permanent seats with the ability to expand to approx. 20,500 via temporary seating. In the past this stadium was proposed as a potential CFL stadium and has had 3 Touchdown Atlantic games from 2010 to 2013. In 2010 the Toronto Argos played the Edmonton Eskimos in front of a 20,725 crowd. In 2011 the Hamilton Ti-Cats played the Calgary Stampeders in front of 20,153. It was the next two games that put an end to the CFL bid in Moncton, as the Uteck Bowl in 2011 between Acadia and McMcMaster only drew 3,726, and the final Touchdown Atlantic game between the Hamilton Ti-Cats and Montreal Alouettes drew only 15,123.
When you take into consideration the history that Moncton has had with the CFL, and the growth of the city with Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions, it really is the right place to be holding this game. The only thing that concerns me with giving this game to Moncton is the fact that the city could not sell out the last two big games played in 2011 and 2013.
The new ownership group would love to show off the city of Halifax to the CFL fans that make the trip from across the Country, but to do this right you need to have a stadium that will work on game day and the Moncton Stadium has proved they can handle the crowd and put on a good event.
There are many other things to come from the Schooners ownership group, such as the plans for the Shannon park stadium, official team announcement, team colours, logo, etc. These will all come in due time but for now, lets finally announce where the Aug. 25th Touchdown Atlantic game is going to be played, and in this writers opinion they are just putting off the evitable. The game has to take place in the Moncton Stadium.