The CFL made an announcement Wednesday, but it wasn’t that a conditional franchise was officially granted or when they expect the 10th team to take the field.
In conjunction with Maritime Football Limited Partnership, the league took the next step in their dating process by announcing a $50 package that puts fans on a priority list for season-ticket membership and seat selection on a first-come, first-serve basis. The league and the ownership group are smitten with each other, but not yet married because the hard business of securing a stadium is far from done.
Having a fan base isn’t an issue, as the Atlantic Schooners are planning on being in Edmonton for the Grey Cup again this year to show how strong they support a team that, at this point, doesn’t exist.
Although the press conference didn’t solidify the league’s intention of being truly coast-to-coast, it did answer some questions on how that would potentially happen and what it would look like.
Here are a few questions we got some clarity on:
What happened at the announcement?
Maritime Football Partnership launched a season-ticket drive and name-the-team contest. Fans were able to put down a deposit for season tickets to show interest and reserve a potential seat.
Who are the prospective owners?
The Maritime Football Limited Partnership (MFLP) group consists of AMJ Campbell Van Lines president Bruce Bowser and former Arizona Coyotes co-owners Anthony LeBlanc and Gary Drummond. Their interest, along with the CFL’s, is conditional on a new stadium being built in the East Coast’s largest city.
How much will season tickets cost?
The group didn’t say how much season tickets would cost, but did reveal they’d offer a 20- to 40-per cent discount in comparison to single-game sales. Elsewhere in the CFL, season tickets range from less than $200 to more than $1,000 depending on the team and location of the seats.
What does a successful ticket drive look like?
Although the deposit is fully refundable and the barrier to entry is not high as the cost is cheap, the group expects that at least half of the stadium will be filled by season-ticket holders. Thus, the group is hoping to sell half a stadium’s worth of season tickets with the drive: 12,000.
How can I get tickets?
The team is registered with Ticketmaster here and you can buy as many as 10 for $50 each with zero fees, including taxes.
What are the team name options?
The real news today is that the short list of team names is down to four. Those who put down a deposit for tickets can vote on one of: Atlantic Convoy, Atlantic Schooners, Atlantic Storm or Atlantic Admirals — or submit their own suggestion.
Rest assured, Atlantic Schooners will be the name. It’s what the fictional franchise has solely been referred to, and it already has great equity and popularity in the marketplace. In your first decision with a new franchise, you don’t want to alienate the majority of your fan base, you want to validate them.
Still not convinced? Follow the money. The group registered a trademark for the name ‘Atlantic Schooners’ late last year.
Notice the team name won’t start with Halifax, but rather Atlantic. Despite the fact the team will reside in Halifax, it is being branded as a team for the entire region, not just the city or the province.
When will the team name be announced?
The winning team name will be announced at the East Coast Kitchen party on Friday Nov. 23, ahead of the Grey Cup in Edmonton. The Atlantic Schooners fan group throws a party during Grey Cup weekend every year as a reminder to the football community that they have a ready-made fan base and badly want a team.
Again, the team name will be Atlantic Schooners. The Maritime Football group isn’t going to choose to a show up at a party independently held by a group named the Atlantic Schooners to tell them the name for the team they helped deliver by keeping the dream alive will be called the ‘Convoy’ or the ‘Storm.’
What is the latest on the stadium proposal?
The ownership group have been working with the CFL and regional government for more than a year on building a 24,000-seat multi-purpose stadium in Shannon Park.
A week ago, Halifax regional council voted in favour of a staff report looking at a business case for the proposed 24,000-seat stadium on the Shannon Park lands in Dartmouth. That staff report, which will look at the plan to fund the stadium, as well as related infrastructure costs, is expected to take six months.
Where will the stadium be built?
The group has proposed Shannon Park, a 38-hectare piece of land on the east side of Halifax Harbour. The area was previously used by the Department of Defence for housing.
The pitch is for the stadium and surrounding amenities to be developed on a six-to-eight-hectare section of the Shannon Park lands, which will make the area a tourist attraction and local gathering destination.
Additional uses for the land would be potential commercial and residential real estate developments, an outdoor amphitheatre for concerts, a dome for year-round use, and an outdoor rink for public skating.
The group analyzed multiple sites but this was there preferred destination from the beginning.
What will the stadium cost and who is paying for it?
The stadium itself would cost at least $170 million and up to $190 million. Municipal chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé told council last week that Halifax wouldn’t own the debt or the stadium. Following council’s vote, the MFLP group claimed they would take on the operational costs. Those are appraised to be around $3 million annually. It still hasn’t been stated who would put up and own the capital risk to get the stadium built and the debt paid for.
The leading financing option is tax increment financing. In that scenario the owners of the stadium would pay property taxes on the development, but the city would return that money as a payment against the stadium’s debt.
Other options to generate revenue to help pay for the stadium that have been circulated are an increase to the hotel marketing levy and a new car rental tax. The intention is to not use any existing tax revenues to pay for the stadium construction.
What did Randy Ambrosie have to say on the stadium situation?
Ambrosie: “In order to do this, you have to have a great stadium to play in. It’s probably the most substantial hurdle that we’ll cross and based on what we’re seeing in the marketplace, the conversations we’re having, I feel very encouraged today that we can get this done.”
When will the franchise start playing, if it’s granted?
MFLP originally hoped to have a team on the field during the 2020 season. It’s now looking like 2021 is more realistic.
The main hold-up would be building the stadium, which would take 18-22 months. Based on timelines in the latest municipal staff report, construction wouldn’t start for another year. The group would love to get shovels in the ground by next summer. One way to get the team on the field faster is to have them play the inaugural season in Moncton, N.B., while the stadium is still being built.