Say what you want about your preference for Moncton or Halifax, but these two newspaper articles say it all (the first from a NB paper, the second from a Halifax paper)
We must dare to dream
Next year’s CFL regular season game here could be start of something big
[url=http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/news/article/812315]http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/n ... cle/812315[/url]
Published Saturday October 3rd, 2009
[i]The Canadian Football League is taking a leap in faith and breaking new ground with this week’s announcement that it will stage a regular season game in Moncton next year.
Make no mistake about it – this isn’t meant to be a one-time wonder.
"We’re certainly looking to build on it long term,’’ said Ian Fowler, the City of Moncton’s general manager of recreation, parks, tourism and culture.
"I think the CFL commissioner (Mark Cohon) has indicated a desire to bring the product to Atlantic Canada. We’ve got a great venue for it now. We’re looking to start with one game and see where it may go. I mean there’s lots of options between one game and a franchise. We’ll take it one step at a time.’’
Which teams will play and the date of the game is not yet known. This event will take place in the fall and that means it could very well be a meaningful late season matchup with playoff implications.
This will be the first regular season major league sporting event ever held in Atlantic Canada and that’s something the entire region can be proud of. More details will be revealed when a formal announcement is made within the next two weeks. The game will be played at the Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium on the Université de Moncton campus. The 10,000-seat venue is being built to host the 2010 IAAF Moncton World Junior Track and Field Championships and it will be expanded to 20,000 seats for the CFL game with the addition of temporary bleachers.
Fowler points out the stadium can be expanded beyond 20,000 seats. Would the city consider taking that step if the ticket demand is there for this game?
"I guess that’s a decision we would have to make at that time,’’ he said.
The CFL has already been to the Atlantic region for exhibition games in Saint John and Halifax. But that’s nowhere near the same level as coming to Moncton for a regular season game that will be nationally televised on TSN.
When the rest of the country thinks about the Atlantic region, Halifax usually comes to mind. This is a prime-time opportunity for Moncton to make the nation stand up and take notice.
"With any event, it’s important that it goes off well because it reflects on the overall image of the city and its ability to host events,’’ said Fowler.
Fowler has been the point man for bringing several high-profile outdoor concerts to Moncton.
The Rolling Stones drew 80,000 fans here in 2005, the largest show on their North American tour that year. Tens of thousands showed up for Brooks & Dunn in 2006 and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in 2007.
The Eagles drew 60,000 fans here in 2008, the largest show on their tour that year. This summer, there were crowds of 70,000 for AC/DC and 35,000 for Bon Jovi. It was the largest show for AC/DC on their North American tour this year.
Now, Moncton is taking the ball and running with it for one CFL regular season game in 2010. The city is looking to host one regular season game each year for the next several years.
Who knows where this could be headed long term if everything falls into place? A franchise of our own some day?
"I think people have a lot of respect for what Moncton has done and can do,’’ said Fowler. "This will present us in a different light with a professional sports regular season game. It will create national attention for Moncton.’’
Steve Thompson, a writer for the Bleacher Report, believes the CFL has targeted the wrong city in Moncton. He says it’s fine to have a game here, but in terms of expansion Moncton can’t help the league.
Thompson says that when it comes to expansion the CFL should be focused short term on Quebec City, London and Kitchener and long term on Halifax, Oshawa, Windsor and Victoria. He concedes it’s too bad none of those cities have shown the same spirit as Moncton.
Moncton is the 29th largest city in Canada with a population of 126,000 and Thompson concludes that’s too small for the CFL. He also says that even with 20,000 seats Moncton would only be equal to Montreal for smallest stadium in the league.
Tobi Writes, another writer for the Bleacher Report, believes it’s an excellent idea for the CFL to play a regular season game in Moncton.
The way she sees it, Moncton is not the league’s ultimate goal. Halifax is. Moncton is merely a means to an end and playing one or two games here per year will keep Maritimers excited about the league.
She also points out the new Moncton stadium finally gives the CFL an acceptable home for an annual "Touchdown Atlantic’’ game. A sellout crowd of 11,000 showed up in Halifax in 2005 for an exhibition game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"We’re not talking about whether the league should put a franchise here,’’ said Fowler. "This shouldn’t get misrepresented that the CFL is looking to put an expansion franchise in Atlantic Canada any time in the near future. "This should be interpreted solely for what it is, the CFL wanting to take its product coast to coast and coming here to share a regular season game with their fans in Atlantic Canada.
"We want to build a fall event around the CFL coming to Moncton for a regular season game. No question. We want to be a partner of the CFL in helping grow the league across Canada. We want to be their Atlantic Canadian partner in whatever vision they have.’’
A CFL team in Moncton could work. Many will argue that our city is too small, but this is short sighted and doesn’t see the big picture.
There are 1.3 million people within a 2.5 hour drive of Moncton, the largest population catchment area of any city in Atlantic Canada. There are 960,000 people within the same distance of Halifax.
With the right marketing approach, fans from across the Maritimes would surely travel to Moncton on weekends in the summer and fall to watch a CFL club that represents the region. Maybe the team could be called the Atlantic Schooners, the Halifax-based CFL dream team that never got started in 1984 when stadium financing fell through.
CFL teams only play nine home games in a regular season that runs from July until November. Nine home games in five months means each one is treated as a special event and that’s a big part of the attraction.
With fan and corporate support from around the Maritimes, there’s every reason to believe that pro football in Moncton could be feasible. Don’t tell me we can’t draw nine crowds of 20,000 to 25,000 each year if it’s marketed properly. Here’s a concept: Ball and Mall. Moncton is an established centrally located shopping destination that draws visitors from around the Maritimes. Take shopping, a CFL game, our beaches and other tourist attractions, and you have a great weekend package that could be marketed to attract visitors.
Think about the positive spinoff on the local economy.
You don’t need to be a football fan to attend next year’s CFL game in Moncton, something that promises to be a big community event. You don’t need to be a football fan to dream about a CFL team in Moncton some day. You just need to be a fan of this city and its continued growth.
"We don’t need to make a statement relative to the naysayers,’’ said Fowler. "We have naysayers on all projects that are undertaken.’’
Anyone can be negative. Dare to dream.
As former basketball superstar Michael Jordan once said, "Make it happen, help it happen or get out of the way.’’[/i]
Take pass on CFL
By ROGER TAYLOR
Sat. Oct 3 - 9:37 AM
[i]LET MONCTON enjoy its fling with the Canadian Football League. Halifax doesn’t need it.
Halifax seems to have developed a habit of getting sucked into a no-win game of one-upmanship with the smaller New Brunswick centre every time Moncton makes an announcement about some entertainment event.
There is a feeling among a certain segment of the population that Halifax needs to respond to pretty well every revelation coming out of Moncton. Part of it may be envy, perhaps arrogance, and maybe a little concern about Halifax’s ability to maintain its position as the most significant population centre in the region.
The CFL recently announced plans to play a single regular season game in Moncton next year. It will be played in the new 10,000-seat stadium currently being built with the help of government funding on the Université de Moncton campus in time for the International Association of Athletics Federations world junior track and field championships being held next summer.
The financial arrangements haven’t been released yet, but there are indications that both the New Brunswick government and Ottawa will be helping to bring the game to Moncton.
We don’t know which teams will be playing but I assume the league hopes it will attract CFL fans from around the Maritimes, helping to build the Canadian brand of football, while New Brunswick and Moncton will use the televised game to promote the virtues of the province and city.
As expected, the news attracted the attention of some hardcore CFL fans in Nova Scotia.
I’ve heard them complain that Halifax needs to immediately build its own stadium, which could be used as home for an Atlantic CFL team, concerts and other large events.
But the reaction has not been as significant as in the past, which may be a sign that Halifax is maturing a little bit.
Maybe the newfound confidence comes as a byproduct of the hugely successful Paul McCartney concert on the Common last summer, which was McCartney’s only Canadian stop.
I have to admit I’m not a CFL fan so I doubt I’d travel to Husky Stadium, let alone Moncton, to watch a game in person.
So I don’t see the big deal about the league coming to play a game in the Maritimes.
Unless an owner with lots of money to throw around can be found to build a Maritime franchise, I frankly can’t foresee a team coming to this region without there being significant subsidies from various levels of government. And I certainly can’t agree with that.
To justify the construction of a stadium in Halifax because it has the potential of attracting a CFL franchise doesn’t seem to make sense either.
CFL teams play only eight regular-season home games a year, so there has to be something more than the CFL in order to justify the expense, especially if it means using taxpayer dollars.
Local football experts I’ve talked to predict the single game in Moncton next season will be a rousing success, mainly because it is a unique event.
But there are reports that New Brunswick wants to bring a CFL game to Moncton every year over the next five years, and the experts wonder just how popular the game will be in year five.
Halifax doesn’t need the CFL, nor do I. I’ll be satisfied with going to the occasional college game and avidly watching the National Football League on television.