Halifax building CFL-Sized stadium


Halifax is about to engage in a debate over building a new stadium that several Canadian cities are wrestling with, some finding a resolution to questions about their needs for stadiums while others are still undecided in a time of fiscal restraint.

Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina and Hamilton have all struggled recently to find ways to finance stadium projects in a climate where taxpayers seem to be leery about taking on more debt.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that there will be no money from the federal government for such projects, saying most Canadians agree that funding professional sports venues is a bad idea.

Halifax regional council recently approved $100,000 for a stadium feasibility study and has named a committee to determine if a municipality without a professional sports franchise can fill the stands.

Mayor Peter Kelly has already staked out his position.

"It's not a matter of if, but when this will be built. We need to move forward," said Kelly. "But we have to be clear on size, seating and potential operational uses. It has to be multi-use."

He says a modest stadium of maybe 25,000 seats would not be contingent on the city once again being awarded a Canadian Football League franchise.

"It may happen at some time but I don't think you can push this project on that one issue. It must be used by many stakeholders," said Kelly.

Hopes of CFL expansion into Atlantic Canada died in the mid-1980s when financing fell through for a 30,000-seat stadium for a team that was going to be called the Atlantic Schooners.

The current debate might not be taking place at all had the city been successful in its pursuit of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which included plans for a 20,000-seat stadium.

Despite pledges of federal and provincial support, Kelly said the bid was scrapped because of sticker shock.

"We were looking at all inclusive costs of anywhere from $1.5 billion to $2 billion to host those Games, while the federal government was only willing to provide support up to $400 million."

For Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, there's no question about what Halifax should do.

"Any city worth a name has had a stadium since time immemorial," he said. "If you do it right, it's a place that will get used a lot."

Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium is about to undergo a $150-million facelift, $55 million of which will fall on city taxpayers.

The balance will be covered by the Ontario and federal governments as Hamilton gets ready to host the 2015 Pan American Games.

For Bratina, a new stadium is clearly worthwhile, not only because it guarantees the CFL Ticats stay put, but for the sense of community it creates.

"There's about 240 days a year that something is happening in that stadium," said Bratina. "It's a busy place and lots of Hamiltonians go through it every year."

Bratina said if Halifax has ambitions for a stadium, pursuing a CFL franchise couldn't hurt.

"We figure the Ticat franchise is worth anywhere from $60 million to $160 million to this city, in spending and marketing," he said.

In Winnipeg, the concrete is already being poured for a new 33,000-seat football stadium, while Ottawa's plan to renovate Lansdowne Park and welcome back a CFL team in 2012 is bogged down in court challenges.

Regina's ambitious $430-million domed stadium plan remains in limbo since the federal government turned down a request for funding help.

However, Mayor Pat Fiacco remains strong on the idea of building it as he pursues private investors.

Kelly said Halifax has already had expressions of corporate interest in a stadium beyond naming rights, but he wouldn't elaborate.

The study committee is to report back to council no later than the end of June.

Haaa !

Halifax will never get it done as there is no political will and especially to say how a potential stadium is exclusively being built for CFL use.
Go Moncton Go.

The ironic thing is that you have people who are against building a stadium (who claim to represent the majority) saying that Kelly is only bringing this issue up now to distract people from a scandal involving money for concerts. It is odd that the mayor would try to distract people from an issue that is causing him trouble with another issue that supposedly is also unpopular. When you consider the concert issue involves about $400 000, and local investment in a stadium will be many times that, it shows that the mayor and council realize how much the HRM electorate want a stadium.

He's a real prize that mayor that one. Wants to build a 25 000 seat stadium with public money and in the same breath they dont need a tenant. Probably the reason a city of 300k people has a deficit of 35 000 000.00

Hfx -Are you not in favor of Halifax building a stadium?

Moncton is the front runner I would say, more political will and focus there. Halifax is a city that doesn't have a clue what to do, look, they lost the Commonwealth Games because of well, I don't know but they couldn't do it. When they had the chance.

I am against a stadium being built in Halifax with the purpose of displacing events and projects in place in Moncton which this clearly is, this will make it more difficult for Moncton to get funding to expand its stadium, it will split events pretty much in half between both city.

After costing Canada’s Commonwealth bid and wasting 11 million dollars of tax money mostly in wages and dubious expenses. The city just built a palace of a library that will cost a fortune to maintain and supply with next to no revenues attached, a Canada Games center that while will be used by the community will also be a huge expense, he’s looking for a quarter billion dollars for another convention center (the city already has one). The genious wants to build this one underground too ! Where everyone wants to hang out :roll: and all this with an out of control deficit to which the only solution they have is to swallow up small communities 50 kilometers away LOL ! I wont mention the destruction of a brand new 60 million dollar sewage plant that was left completely unmaned right after commissioning !

I sat with a CFL team President during Touchdown Atlantic and he was so disapointed that Mayor Kelly didn’t even bother to show up for an event put together by the CFL and now that Moncton is doing well with the CFL and has grabbed the Mitchell bowl now the SAME guy wants 150 million dollars to build another building that will cost more to maintain than it will generate.

Halifax will not have a 25 000 seat stadium anytime soon, 1 because they dont need one, 2- They are broke and dont have a penny to spend. 3- Because the federal is not going to trust that mayor ever again with a major project. 4- They dont have a business case.


I hope halifax builds a stadium, but not a 25k seater with no tenant. We've had enough bad stadium stories in this country for th NIMBYs to point to.

They should build an 8 - 10k soccer/football stadium to be co-owned/operated by their two universities. St. Mary's has one of the best football traditions in the country, and Dal is a major Canadian institution and CIS football would benefit from its presence. Also, 8k is more than enough for CIS soccer, and it's even large enough for an NASL or USL-Pro soccer franchise, should an investor step forward in the future and secure a team.

Make it expandable to 25k permanent, 35-40k w/ temps if you want, but it would certainly add to the cost and who knows if there is a suitable location close to the universities that could accomodate crowds so large.

Moncton is the frontrunner for a permanent CFL team, for a whole bunch of reasons. 1) Stadium exists, 2) Political will, 3) geographical desirability, but I think 4) 10k permanent seats along the sidelines, running track, lots of room for parking is the biggest plus. In my mind, I think they could get to 25k permanent seats by adding a section onto each end of the two existing grandstands (for a total of four new above-ground sections) digging down through the permanent track, thereby enlarging both sideline grandstands and creating a bowl below-ground that would look great on TV. That would still leave a ton of room at ground-level in the endzones to bring seating up to 40k for Grey Cups.

Build an intimate 8k seater, Halifax. CIS football is a great product, and if NASL is successful as a league, you could be soccer-town for the Maritimes.


why is it ok for moncton to steal the mitchel bowl, touchdown atlantic and other events from halifax, but if halifax wants to build a stadium to keep events in halifax, thats wrong, in your opinion?
moncton doesnt have a CFL team for halifax to ‘steal’.
this is like saying toronto ‘stole’ the NHL, MLB, NBA, MLS etc from hamilton.

moncton does not have a cfl-sized stadium.
moncton does not have a team.
moncton does not have a conditional franchise.

what would halifax be stealing?

People are allowing their personal hate for they mayor, which he has done a great deal to earn, to affect their judgement on whether Halifax would be a better site for a CFL team than Moncton.
There is little in Moncton's sports history, short of hosting a very successful Touchdown Atlantic, to suggest that they woould become the Saskatchewan of the east.
The reason that politicians and potential CFL team owners are not connecting the stadium to a CFL team is to try and get investment from the ACOA. When budgets for the stadium were being talked about, the maximum numbers mentioned were $60 million for the stadium and $2200/seat. Doing the math, that works out to 25000 seats. The FIFA tournament only demands 20000 seats. What league's commissioner has stated repeatedly that a stadium needs about 25000 seats to attract an expansion franchise?
The majority of people in the HRM support a stadium, realizing that the city and province will probably have to pay most of the costs.
As for finances, at least at the provincial level, Nova Scotia is in arguably better shape than New Brunswick. Nova Scotia presently has more debt than New Brunswick, but it's deficit is much lower. New Brunswick is either going to have to raise taxes or cut spending in the near future to tackle their financial problems.

Can't argue that. I think he's completely missed the boat. Gottingen street and the rezoning is a disgrace. the destruction of the tourism industry, the misshandling of most of the construction projects. The lack of vision. Probably one of the biggest wastedd opportunity in local politics in Canada in a long ,long time.

Here is the problem with Halifax...............TIME.
Thats right. To much time has past and still nothing in Halifax that has helped land them a team.
Regardless of political will , costs, dept, fan support, ect, 25 plus years have past and still nothing in Halifax.
My choice is Moncton if I had to pick one. Moncton has done something that Halifax has yet to do which is built a stadium.
It may not be big but it is still far more than Halifax.

Moncton only works if you believe that the average fan is into 2 hr. + drives to and from the stadium. At about a 2 1/4 hr. drive circle the Moncton pop. equals that of Halifax. At the 1 hr. drive circle Halifax has 3 times the population.

Look, I like both cities. My wife is from Moncton and my brother-in-law went to Touchdown Atlantic and would love a team there (he's a half hour away) while we lived in Nova Scotia and went to Halifax a lot. Still, common sense tells me that if any place CAN support a team it is likely Halifax.

IMO the “no tenant” argument is a red herring. There’s no tenant because there’s no stadium. There’s no stadium because there’s no tenant. It is a chicken and the egg situation. Something has got to come first, and usually that means the stadium comes first.

Besides that, there’s always a risk the stadium will end up without a tenant. In Phoenix, Jobing.com arena looks likely to end up without a tenant either even though it was built for a NHL franchise already in the metro area.

Also, I think that compared to some other stadium projects in Canada, even without the CFL a 25,000 seat stadium in Halifax gets pretty decent bang-for-the-buck.

The worst case scenario for a Halifax Stadium is probably 3 events a year… 1 CIS game (Vanier Cup, Loney Bowl, Mitchell Bowl) 1 concert and 1 soccer match. That’s $60 million for 3 events a year or $20 million per event.

Regina is considering building a $400 million stadium for 10 Riders games and a couple of concerts a year. That’s $33 million per event. Winnipeg is building a $200 million stadium for 10 Bombers games a year. That’s $20 million per event.

How many bad stadium stories are there? Just 1… the Big Owe.

Other than the Big O, only SkyDome has been controversial. IMO it is silly to say that no other stadiums should be built because decades ago Montreal and Toronto screwed up their “iconic” “state-of-the-art” stadiums.

If Halifax builds anything, it will be pretty modest. Hopefully it will be adequate for a CFL team. It will be much closer in size and scope to Moncton Stadium, Saputo Stadium, the renovation of Molson Stadium and even Empire Field than the Big O and SkyDome.

All 4 of those similar stadium projects have been pretty successful. That’s the comparison.

HfxTC, even though you live in Halifax, you’re quite obviously a Moncton booster. You’ve mentioned numerous times that you plan to move yourself and your business to Moncton. So you have 2 valid (although IMO selfish) reasons to oppose a stadium in Halifax. 1) you don’t want to pay taxes towards a stadium and 2) you don’t want Halifax to do anything that will take away from your future home in Moncton.

But you’re just not being objective… there are 1.8 million people in the Maritimes. That’s more than enough people for a 10,000 seat track and field stadium in Moncton and a 25,000 football stadium in Halifax.

In 1976, there was 1.8 million people in Alberta and they had a 25,000 seat stadium and a 30,000 seat stadium and were getting ready to replace one of them with a 40,000 seat stadium.

There are about 750,000 people in Winnipeg and just in that single city there is a 29,000 seat football stadium, a 7,500 seat baseball stadium and a 5,000 seat track and field stadium.

The Maritimes is big enough to have 2 stadiums 250km apart.

I am objective. Both my sons are still in our Halifax home for at least another year or two. I dont mind paying taxes as long as the services are provided and distributed fairly.

Edmonton built a stadium with NO funding from the feds, Winnipeg NO funding from the feds , both cities had tenants prior to building the thing in fact Edmonton actually held its Commonwealth games , not take commit , take money and go hide because the Federal government would only agree to pay 400 000 000.00 towards them. Yes they turned down 400 million dollars because ONE report frightened him, instead of showing us some community ingenuity and resolve.

Halifax had a five year head start on Moncton and its population was the same then... They did not give a shiat then about the CFL or a stadium. Kelly just woke up when the good old dogs from the south side went and cried that Moncton had a toy they didn't.

Now for the first time in the history of this country the CFL is making headway in Atlantic Canada and the last thing we need is a city with a HISTORY of poor management ( being kind) to come and mess this up. That is why I dont support any notion of a stadium in Halifax. Just plain old common sense. Show me a group like Ottawa has that is willing to put 95 million dollars of their own money AND purchase a CFL or MLS franchise and I will change my mind instantly.

Saying you’re objective does mean that you are objective. The proof is in the pudding. If you really were objective, you would point out some of the negatives about Moncton and Moncton’s stadium.

You’d be saying that Moncton shouldn’t need Federal money to get a stadium built. You’d be saying that the CFL has been around for decades and Moncton has not given a “shiat” about it until a couple of years ago. You’d be saying that Moncton has never accomplished anything of note, and hasn’t even tried to accomplish anything of note. You’d be saying that Moncton has 2/3 the population of the CFL’s smallest market and only 1/5 the population of the CFL’s 2nd smallest market.

But you are 100% negative about Halifax and 100% positive about Moncton. And that’s fine. You’re a Moncton booster. Good for you. But you’re not objective.

I’ve been to both Moncton and Halifax. Just like everywhere else, they both have some +'s and some -'s. But if we are to believe your “objective” assessment, Moncton is all +'s and Halifax is all -'s.

According to the March 25, 1978 edition of the Ottawa Citizen, Commonwealth Stadium was built with federal funding.


Read your article again, the 12 million was for hosting of the Commonwealth games. The same games Halifax was offered 400 million dollars to host. Not for building a stadium with no tenant or international event.

Moncton has not proven yet that they can support a CFL team but they are working towards it. Same for the junior World track and field. They are buildking expertise, next event will be bigger. I admire the smarts and the effort they go about things. Dont just call a press conference and throw 100K dollars of tax money away and say we Shall build a 25 000 seat stadium ONE DAY ! Who for ? We don't know or care LOL !

I read it again, and the article still says that the 1978 CWG in Edmonton had a $36 million capital budget, of which the Federal government contributed $12 million. $21 million of that capital budget went towards Commonwealth Stadium. (Further on in the article, it says that the Feds also contributed $5 million to the operating budget)

So basically, the Feds funded 1/3 of Commonwealth Stadium but you said…

Which just isn’t true.

Not sure what you’re getting at here, because you must know that Halifax is trying to be a host for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is an international event. But in order to host, Halifax needs a new stadium.

AFAIK, Halifax will be asking the Feds for $20 or $30 million towards a $60 to $90 million stadium. Basically a third, just like Edmonton got for Commonwealth Stadium, Toronto got for BMO Field or Moncton got for Moncton Stadium.

Maybe you’re commenting on the $400 million. I could go into a long winded explanation, but the $400 offered to Halifax isn’t very different from the $17 the Feds gave Edmonton in 1978.