Moncton Committee to Explore CFL Franchise


Minister proposes committee to explore CFL franchise idea

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Published Friday October 2nd, 2009
Adam Huras

[i]MONCTON - Justice Minister Mike Murphy is calling for the creation of a special committee to investigate the possibility of bringing a Canadian Football League team to New Brunswick.

Murphy, the member for Moncton North, said he has contacted some of the region's most prominent business people to kick around the idea of a CFL franchise.

He suggested the exploration committee just days after Premier Shawn Graham confirmed the Hub City had landed its first ever pro-football regular season game.

"I think that we are going to have to look at an exploratory committee of prominent business people and stakeholders in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada," Murphy said.

"I have already taken some steps in this direction and I will continue to do that."

Murphy said Thursday the CFL soon will announce plans to bring three regular season games to Moncton, one in each of the league's next three seasons.

Those games should help spark interest in private financing of a permanent team while also proving a team's economic viability.

"You need an entrepreneur more than anything," said David Murrell, an economics professor at the University of New Brunswick, adding he supports the committee idea.

"The only question mark here is if an entrepreneur would be able to put up the money and tie everything together."

Murrell said startup costs for a sports team are the biggest hurdle. He said unknowns include acceptance in the province of a professional-level sports team.

"That's a bit iffy, but it may work in the region's favour, because people may be so enthralled," Murrell said, adding Moncton's central location provides access to a sufficient fan base.

The stadium capability is there as well as a new 10,000-seat stadium - which can accommodate 20,000 fans with temporary seating - is under construction at the Université de Moncton for the 2010 world junior track and field championships.

It will be ready for a CFL game next season.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc also supports the idea.

"There has been a lot of interest into whether the city could sustain a CFL franchise and to me this is the perfect opportunity and the perfect way to see if it is viable," he said. "Going from there to a full franchise is a big step again, but I am perfectly open to having a closer look at that."

The CFL declined to comment, saying a deal with the City of Moncton has yet to be completed on a first regular season game.

League commissioner Mark Cohon has consistently said the viability of game hinged on the support of government, namely funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield, the minister of state responsible for ACOA, said a deal has not been finalized as of yet.

"It's in fact true that we are working on the file but I think the premier was a bit premature in going out to announce it," he said. "It looks fairly positive to date but certainly we are not in a position to go ahead in telling anything more."

Murphy would not disclose which regional business leaders he has approached, but said that the sell will become easier after the first kickoff.

"There is no question that this thing not only can work, but be profitable," he said. "The time is also now there to make it happen."[/i]

Seems the wheels are in motion out east and people are talking. Hopefully the ball isnt dropped AGAIN. I feel that a team in Atlantic Canada would be amazing and I also believe that with the right people behind it would be a major success. :thup:

I REALLY hope this happens!

I would love to see this happen. Bring Ottawa back into the fold, and a team in the Maritimes…it would make for some very exciting football.

Sounds very promising, yet, for an owner to make a profit shouldn't the stadium have at least 20,000 permanent seats?

This is gonna be sweeeeeeet! I just hope they go with a better name this time... Schooners (although fitting for the area) was kinda lame. I'll be the happiest troll in Pigskinland if the CFL has 10 teams some day soon! Can't wait!!!!!

All they are missing is an owner with deep pockets and a real 30,000 seat stadium not the current bleacher style high school facility?

Obviously any prospective owner would have to work out a deal to get the permanent seating expanded, could possibly do it through naming rights, etc.
Since Moncton will be doing a regular season game for the next 3 seasons, the soonest anyone could expect to see a new francise in Moncton would be 2013 (which is the date of the projected return of Ottawa), dependant on the success of the games in the next 3 years as well as finding a commited owner (or owner group) and a deal to expand the stadium.

Still though and without the previously mentioned two critical components it remains nothing more than a pipe dream.
But at least give Moncton credit for trying.

Moncton is a very dynamic city. Don't count them down. Moncton is not Halifax... Acadian are party animals and extremely proud people. I see a big success if the Bragg's , McCain or other weatlhy group(s) decide to make a gift to the area.

I do business in all four Atlantic provinces. I'd be good for 8 season tickets no problem. The least I could do after all the business I got on the new stadium :wink:

There are a couple issues with the stadium in regards to washrooms and concessions that would be difficult to manage but I don't think seating would be a problem. They could go with 25k seats and primo ticket prices for the first couple years and build from there like they did in Montreal.

Keep in mind there is NO pro sports at all in Atlantic Canada. High School football is going nuts with 3 to 5 programs coming on line every year for the past 3 years.

....This would be HUGE for the CFL.....Sounds positive ... and the intent seems genuine, but what was it that someone said....'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'...We need something more concrete before we get too excited...Somone said that Ottawa would/should be up and running in 2013...IF and i mean a big IF Moncton came on board at the same time....that would be some draft ,to fill those rosters, off of the existing franchises.... :roll:

Everything you say is correct, however I have read that the big potential owners like McCain and Irving Oil are extremely cheap and will not invest in private enterprise.
As for the stadium, the CFL has knowingly come out and stated how on average 28,000 average crowd is required as the break even point.
Not to mention big corporate sponsorship like mentioned above and stadium corporate like boxes.
We cannot have a bush looking and minor league benches/bleacher only stadium.
If Moncton is serious, well than build a real stadium, 30,000+.

Break even point of 28k is subjective. Montreal makes money hand over fist and they have 20 200 seats. They still show a profit of 500k after The Doctor and his wife pay themselves and expense the montreal condo and everything else...

Also not everyone who owns a sports team expects to make a profit... and most don't expect it immediately. Also it looks like the city of Moncton is willing to front the stadium costs... So if the owner has no rent or business taxes to pay it becomes very attractive.

We are a long ways away but I think it is fantastic to see politicians pulling for the CFL and out East of all places !

For sure, and as much as we all know hockey is Canada's no. 1 sport and the NHL is what just about, probably all, every community would want over the CFL, try thinking the NHL in Moncton, a laugher to the NHL just like Hamilton is a laugher to them, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Halifax, Kitchener, Saskatoon etc. The NHL laughs at us, well f y NHL I say we have a great league right here in a great sport and for a great trophy, OUR Grey Cup. :rockin:

Yah no doubt they need a real stadium, but I so GO MONCTON! They are talking about it, testing the waters, putting the bug in people's ear, getting the word out. This can only help in the long run. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but who knows ten years from now or maybe even sooner.

I have to agree with your points. I think New Brunswick might be a little too small of a market to support a CFL team, but of course the three regular season games will help determine that. The most positive thing to come out of this is that there is a community that is actively pursuing the idea even if in the end nothing comes of it, it shows how strong the CFL has become in this country (as if the ratings we’re seeing weren’t enough proof.)

Ignoring a corporate community to draw from, New Brunswick has a population of 748,319 or 10.50 people per km²

Consider Saskatchewan is 1,023,810 and a much lower 1.67 / km² and packs Mosaic stadium game in game out. Now the Roughriders have decades of history to rely on. A New Brunswick team would have to build a following from scratch but what exactly would a CFL team be competing with for the entertainment dollar in New Brunswick? Junior hockey I presume?

Manitoba is 1,213,815 & 2.14 /km² and seems to be sufficiently supporting the Bombers through thick and thin.

I don't see why a market, without major professional sports competition (i.e. Toronto's Jays, Leafs, Raptors, Rock, TFC, Marlies & Bills) over 500,000 people, with a population density over 5.00 / km², a stadium and a half decent GDP won't be able to support a CFL team.

Very nice job there professor :thup:

Until Patrick Roy took over the Rampart junior hockey team, Halifax drew the best crowds in the Q and at a higher ticket price than QC. 14.50 vs 12.00.

Let's compare current numbers between Quebec City, some atlantic junior teams and the Regina Pats. Since all these markets have Junior hockey.

#1 Quebec city: 7486 per game
#2 Halifax : 6971 per game
#3 St-John 6347 per game
#4 Moncton 4334 per game

All those teams draw better than Montreal does 3030 (they have NHL hockey)

Regina Pats: 4050

There is a market for the CFL in Atlantic Canada...

All I know, right now with the boom in Saskatchewan and that province being CFL and Riders crazy, I would approach Saskatoon asap to see if there is a groundswell of potential support with a rich owner and political will to build a new 30,000+ stadium.
Regardless, I would be playing one game in the East next year OK in Moncton and one game in the West, being the Toon.


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

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Published Saturday October 3rd, 2009
Neil Hodge

[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

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.

Go Pats.

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