[i]A brand new sports stadium would be the centrepiece of downtown Halifax if readers of The Chronicle Herald were city planners.
We asked for feedback after last Monday’s story on tearing down the massive Cogswell Street interchange. The system of downtown highway overpasses and ramps was built almost 40 years ago to align with a proposed Harbour Drive freeway that was abandoned because of enormous public opposition.
Future structural issues with the interchange, coupled with the city’s desire to remove it and develop the site, will eventually lead to its destruction.
Halifax Regional Municipality plans to hold a series of workshops in the fall on downtown development, especially relating to the Cogswell site, as part of the "HRM By Design" urban design project. But we thought we’d get things jump-started by asking for your opinions.
Dozens of readers sent in their ideas for the prime piece of real estate by e-mail or snail mail. A few thousand more took part in our online readers poll.
The majority were united in their desire to see a new centrepiece sports complex with seating for 25,000 to 40,000 at the Cogswell site. Some readers were so keen, they were ready to sign up teams for the facility.
"A major stadium, capable of being a feature venue for future Commonwealth (Games) attempts, a major hockey venue, the potential to host an NBA team," James Moore wrote.
Robert Paege of San Leandro, Calif., and Gerry Meade of Dartmouth both said a Canadian Football League team could be in the cards if a new downtown sports stadium is built.
"I am suggesting a roof for this facility because let’s make no mistake about it, protection from the elements will be a big factor in the number of fans who turn out for these events," Mr. Meade said. "We do after all live in the northern hemisphere."
Kevin Elliott of Calgary said Halifax, as a "vibrant city of 400,000," should have a great stadium to help attract "world-class events."
"Perhaps one day, the city could host the biggest annual event in Canada — the Grey Cup game — bringing millions into the local economy."
Brett Musgrave is pinning his hopes on the NHL salary cap making an expansion team for Halifax economically viable.
"This would mean lots of revenue for the downtown area," he said.
As for the design of the stadium, Scott Smith of Halifax suggested a good model is already available.
"What about keeping the stadium from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and just moving the location (from Shannon Park)?" he said.
"A stadium is something Halifax needs, and with that (Cogswell) location, it could boost downtown like the Metro Centre does."
Right alongside the sports fans among readers were the culture buffs.
A new performing arts complex would be a nice fit at the site, many readers said.
Such a centre would be a "wonderful draw for Halifax," Helen Jeppesen said, adding that it should be "large enough and nice enough to bring in the big names."
Others feel that putting any large complex downtown — whether for sports, arts or otherwise — would tie up traffic. Dan Samardzic wants the city to go the other way and create pedestrian-friendly streetscapes to entice visitors.
"I can already see the new cafes, shops and street entertainers there," he said. "Hopefully, new buildings in the area will have a little bit of charm and the beauty so present in the Granville Street area."
Another reader also likes the feel of the old buildings there.
"I would recreate as much of the original structures as possible and practical," Tom Parsons said.
He also feels that too much emphasis is put on dollar signs and he recommends steering clear of large entertainment structures.
"Instead, development should focus on good esthetics and quality of life," he said.
A little retail therapy might be in order, too.
J. Morris wishes that services, like a bank and a grocery store like Pete’s Frootique, could be re-established in the downtown for people living in the north end.
Philip MacLean is on the same page. He said commercial development is needed for area residents and for people who don’t have cars.
"I miss the old Woolco at Scotia Square, it was very convenient," he said.
But some people feel that any newfangled idea is wrong.
Almost one-quarter of the 2,434 online voters said the best idea would be to leave the interchange the way it is. A few wrote simply: "More parking."
Not Jo Marchand, who believes the downtown would benefit from the removal of a "concrete jungle that serves no real purpose today."
"I don’t think there is a single other development that would have a more positive effect on our city."
To get involved in future forums and workshops on the downtown, click on www.halifax.ca/capitaldistrict/Regional ... Study.html.[/i]
I like the result, but I don't like how most of the letters of support for the stadium that the paper published were from people outside of Halifax. It's like they're trying to make it look like it's outsiders that want it, not Haligonians.