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Quebec OKs new roof for Big O
Olympic stadium's roof will be soft top and removable for open-air activities
CBC News Nov 09, 2017

The Quebec government has given the go-ahead to replace the dilapidated roof of Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Radio-Canada has learned.

The provincial cabinet approved a new roof, which is expected to cost up to $250 million, at its Oct. 25 meeting.

The new roof will be a soft one and removable for open-air activities.

"We can't use it if we don't repair the roof. That is unavoidable," said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. "For us, abandoning it is out of the question."

"It is out of the question for us to leave the stadium adrift or to let it crumble away over time."

The Big O's roof has been plagued with problems ever since it was constructed for the 1976 Olympic Games. It has been deteriorating at a rapid rate over the past decade.

Radio-Canada has found that in the last year, the roof tore 677 times, compared to the previous year when it ripped 496 times.

In the last 10 years, 7,453 tears have had to be repaired.

The Couillard government believes that a stadium with a new roof will attract more activities and will justify the cost, according to Radio-Canada.

The government has been waiting for the end of the municipal elections to make a public announcement.

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Java Post aerials of Mosaic Stadium for TSN and the Saskatchewan Roughriders

In June of 2017, Java Post Aerial Photography was contacted by The Sports Network (TSN) and the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders to shoot footage of the newly-opened Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Here are a few of the many aerial images we captured, as well as some brief behind-the-scenes footage.

At the 2:30 mark of the video, you can see multi-coloured seats of historic Mosaic Stadium/Taylor Field on the left side of the screen. This storied facility - for decades, home of the Roughriders and a mecca for all Roughrider fans - was demolished in October of 2017, a little more than four months after this footage was shot.

 

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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The Big O's roof will be replaced (at a cost of up to $300M)
CTV Montreal November 10, 2017

The Quebec government has given the green light to replace the roof of the Olympic stadium.

There have been thousands of rips in the fabric roof over the years and it must be replaced if the stadium is to be used.

The Olympic Installation Board will now begin a two-year process of deciding what materials the roof will be made from -- but officials said it will be soft and will be a fixed structure. The stadium design cannot support a metal retractable roof, they said.

The budget for the third roof on the stadium will between $200 and $300 million and the OIB would like it to be installed by 2023.

Avi Friedman, PhD in Architecture and a professor at McGill University, said designing a roof for a stadium has been demonstrated to be difficult.

"I don't think that Montrealers will be able to, willing to stomach another large sum of money and increase. And again mistakes in this type of construction and in this type of project may end up in spending many more millions," said Friedman.

The current roof is a fibreglass and Teflon shell supported by a steel frame that sits on the stadium, and cables strung from the tower.

It is nearly 20 years old and has been riddled with problems since the beginning, including in 1999 when the roof tore and snow and ice crashed through onto the Montreal Auto Show.

Since, then the number of rips has gone from 30 to 40 a year to more than 1,200 annually, making the stadium only useable in warmer months.

The roof has ripped 7,453 times over the past ten years, according to a Radio-Canada report.

The original fabric roof was retractable, but also ripped multiple times. It was retracted and installed fewer than 100 times before being removed.

“It was meant to be a very advanced stadium but unfortunately because of the many things that happened over time, it became something that we are not very proud of,” said Friedman.

Montreal's Olympic Stadium with its retractable roof was designed by architect Roger Taillibert and it was built for the 1976 summer games, although the first roof was only installed in 1987.

Though some critics have suggested demolishing the building, Olympic Stadium CEO Michel Labrecque said that's not an option.

“I think it will be a shame to demolish something that our parents, father and grandfather built, that is unique, that is an architectural symbol of Montreal and Quebec,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe it’s cost effective. “To say, okay, we'll start from scratch, it will cost $500 to $700 million. It will take five years, will be truly complicated, 7,500 trucks will be needed it's a no way.”

On Thursday, Premier Philippe Couillard defended the decision to spend more public dollars on the stadium, saying it can't continue to be used if the roof isn't repaired and abandoning the Big O isn't an option.

Its use is limited, said Labrecque.

“The best time of the year for exhibitions, for shows, is between October and March and the stadium is under a protocol. If it snows more than three centimetres we have to close everything here,” he said, adding that the new roof will double the amount of time the stadium can be used.

“What we want here is a roof that is foolproof 365 days of the year,” he said.

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This thing is further along than people think

'Defining moment': CFL commissioner sparks expansion hope in Halifax
Randy Ambrosie says it’s the unfilled part of national dream
Devin Heroux, CBC Sports Nov 25, 2017

OTTAWA — If the commissioner of the Canadian Football League has it his way, there will be 10 teams in the league under his watch.

"It's the unfilled part of our national dream to have the Maritimes have a football team," Randy Ambrosie told CBC Sports. "In everyone's life and career there are defining moments. This would be a defining moment to see the launch of a franchise in the Maritimes. Wouldn't that be special?" he said.

Less than two weeks ago it was confirmed a business group had made a presentation to Halifax City Council about bringing a football team to the city. Ambrosie was at that meeting.

On Saturday night in Ottawa, Ambrosie joined members of that business group and made an appearance at the Atlantic Schooners Down East Kitchen Party, another sign they are serious about making this happen.

"I just wanted them to know that on behalf of the league and our governors, nothing would make us happier than getting this last piece of the puzzle of a truly national league to come together."

Anthony Leblanc was also at the Schooners party. He's the former president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes. But after stepping away from hockey, he turned his attention to what he calls his true love — football.

"It just feels like the stars are aligning," LeBlanc said. "We have an amazing commissioner who wants this to happen. We're working closely with him to make sure our approach is bulletproof."

Stadium the sticking point

Both Ambrosie and LeBlanc are cautiously optimistic and quickly point to the key piece of the expansion being building a stadium.

LeBlanc shared exclusive details about the work the group has been doing behind the scenes for months now, specifically on the stadium issue.

He said the group has five potential stadium sites in Halifax and they're compiling economic impact studies to determine what the best place would be to build it. LeBlanc said he's hired an architect in Los Angeles to produce a stadium rendering that was presented to Halifax council.

"They went to the Atlantic Schooners wikipedia page and saw the old colour scheme and took it and made this rendering look like it. The councilors just loved it," he said.


When it comes to the finances, LeBlanc says the group has been spending serious money to be as thorough as possible because he knows, that at least for right now, this initiative has to be led by the private sector.

"We're spending real money on an economic impact analysis," he said. "We'll spend the next six to eight months doing what we need to do to make the league and the governors feel we're being thoughtful."

Best case scenario?

LeBlanc says if everything goes perfectly, they'll get a conditional expansion from the league within the next few months, then continue the dialogue at the municipal and provincial level.

Then he hopes to have shovels in the ground for a new stadium in a year with kickoff in Halifax happening in 2020.

"I'm still mystified that this hasn't happened yet. It feels like things are aligning. But we have to follow the process," LeBlanc said.

The group has also been doing surveys to see how a CFL team in Atlantic Canada would be received

"One of the first things we did was very advanced polling in the Maritimes. The region will support us," he said.

LeBlanc also said in all the research they've seen, the sponsorship levels are comparative to Winnipeg, Regina and Hamilton.

Schooners?

This isn't the first time there has been an attempt to set up a CFL team in Nova Scotia.

The league granted the region a franchise in 1982 on the condition that it build a stadium suitable for professional football. Things were looking good back then. By 1983, the Atlantic Schooners had a name, a logo, a colour scheme and a growing fanbase.

By 1984, however, they had to withdraw their team's application after they couldn't find enough funding for a stadium.

And now on this go-around, it appears the Schooners name is still as popular as ever.

"The original thought process is we'll do what the Schooners did back in the early '80s and that was go to the people in the Atlantic provinces and find out what people want to call it," LeBlanc said. "If the early feedback is any indication it's going to be tough to see it being anything other than Schooners."

LeBlanc says they already have their legal team looking into trademarks.

'Heard what I wanted to hear'

If there's one CFL fan who wants a Halifax team more than anyone, it's John Ryerson. He's been the person organizing the Schooners parties over the years. He says he was born in Atlantic Canada but his wife and kids are from Saskatchewan.

"I lived in Regina. Maritime roots. But the kids and wife are from Saskatchewan and for 16 years I was cheering on the Riders. Then I moved back to Halifax and there was no football."

That's when Ryerson kicked into action. He said he learned about the defunct Schooners and wanted to do everything he could to try and revive the team.

"They had it so far. Team logos, colours, they even bought the used scoreboard from the New England Patriots. It's still, to this day, in a warehouse in Dartmouth," Ryerson said.

Ryerson spoke to the commissioner about how badly he wants a team in Halifax and says he feels closer now than at any other time.

"I've been through five commissioners during this project and no commissioner I've ever met was more genuine than Randy Ambrosie. What you see is what you get. When he speaks, he speaks the truth. He said they were committed to working on this project and that's more than any other commissioner has ever said."

Ryerson says he'll be the first one to buy Halifax Schooners season tickets should this all become a reality.

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2 hours ago, Joe MacCarthy said:

This thing is further along than people think

'Defining moment': CFL commissioner sparks expansion hope in Halifax
Randy Ambrosie says it’s the unfilled part of national dream
Devin Heroux, CBC Sports Nov 25, 2017

OTTAWA — If the commissioner of the Canadian Football League has it his way, there will be 10 teams in the league under his watch.

"It's the unfilled part of our national dream to have the Maritimes have a football team," Randy Ambrosie told CBC Sports. "In everyone's life and career there are defining moments. This would be a defining moment to see the launch of a franchise in the Maritimes. Wouldn't that be special?" he said.

Less than two weeks ago it was confirmed a business group had made a presentation to Halifax City Council about bringing a football team to the city. Ambrosie was at that meeting.

On Saturday night in Ottawa, Ambrosie joined members of that business group and made an appearance at the Atlantic Schooners Down East Kitchen Party, another sign they are serious about making this happen.

"I just wanted them to know that on behalf of the league and our governors, nothing would make us happier than getting this last piece of the puzzle of a truly national league to come together."

Anthony Leblanc was also at the Schooners party. He's the former president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes. But after stepping away from hockey, he turned his attention to what he calls his true love — football.

"It just feels like the stars are aligning," LeBlanc said. "We have an amazing commissioner who wants this to happen. We're working closely with him to make sure our approach is bulletproof."

Stadium the sticking point

Both Ambrosie and LeBlanc are cautiously optimistic and quickly point to the key piece of the expansion being building a stadium.

LeBlanc shared exclusive details about the work the group has been doing behind the scenes for months now, specifically on the stadium issue.

He said the group has five potential stadium sites in Halifax and they're compiling economic impact studies to determine what the best place would be to build it. LeBlanc said he's hired an architect in Los Angeles to produce a stadium rendering that was presented to Halifax council.

"They went to the Atlantic Schooners wikipedia page and saw the old colour scheme and took it and made this rendering look like it. The councilors just loved it," he said.


When it comes to the finances, LeBlanc says the group has been spending serious money to be as thorough as possible because he knows, that at least for right now, this initiative has to be led by the private sector.

"We're spending real money on an economic impact analysis," he said. "We'll spend the next six to eight months doing what we need to do to make the league and the governors feel we're being thoughtful."

Best case scenario?

LeBlanc says if everything goes perfectly, they'll get a conditional expansion from the league within the next few months, then continue the dialogue at the municipal and provincial level.

Then he hopes to have shovels in the ground for a new stadium in a year with kickoff in Halifax happening in 2020.

"I'm still mystified that this hasn't happened yet. It feels like things are aligning. But we have to follow the process," LeBlanc said.

The group has also been doing surveys to see how a CFL team in Atlantic Canada would be received

"One of the first things we did was very advanced polling in the Maritimes. The region will support us," he said.

LeBlanc also said in all the research they've seen, the sponsorship levels are comparative to Winnipeg, Regina and Hamilton.

Schooners?

This isn't the first time there has been an attempt to set up a CFL team in Nova Scotia.

The league granted the region a franchise in 1982 on the condition that it build a stadium suitable for professional football. Things were looking good back then. By 1983, the Atlantic Schooners had a name, a logo, a colour scheme and a growing fanbase.

By 1984, however, they had to withdraw their team's application after they couldn't find enough funding for a stadium.

And now on this go-around, it appears the Schooners name is still as popular as ever.

"The original thought process is we'll do what the Schooners did back in the early '80s and that was go to the people in the Atlantic provinces and find out what people want to call it," LeBlanc said. "If the early feedback is any indication it's going to be tough to see it being anything other than Schooners."

LeBlanc says they already have their legal team looking into trademarks.

'Heard what I wanted to hear'

If there's one CFL fan who wants a Halifax team more than anyone, it's John Ryerson. He's been the person organizing the Schooners parties over the years. He says he was born in Atlantic Canada but his wife and kids are from Saskatchewan.

"I lived in Regina. Maritime roots. But the kids and wife are from Saskatchewan and for 16 years I was cheering on the Riders. Then I moved back to Halifax and there was no football."

That's when Ryerson kicked into action. He said he learned about the defunct Schooners and wanted to do everything he could to try and revive the team.

"They had it so far. Team logos, colours, they even bought the used scoreboard from the New England Patriots. It's still, to this day, in a warehouse in Dartmouth," Ryerson said.

Ryerson spoke to the commissioner about how badly he wants a team in Halifax and says he feels closer now than at any other time.

"I've been through five commissioners during this project and no commissioner I've ever met was more genuine than Randy Ambrosie. What you see is what you get. When he speaks, he speaks the truth. He said they were committed to working on this project and that's more than any other commissioner has ever said."

Ryerson says he'll be the first one to buy Halifax Schooners season tickets should this all become a reality.

Good news possibly for the CFL and possibly the Canadian men's and women's national soccer team and even for bringing some international soccer club  exhibition games  , however, for a possible CPL team the stadium will be too big, the CPL needs to try and go the small stadium route and if possible the small modular stadium but I know that's easier said than done , however, it's good news for the CFL and possibly the Canadian national soccer teams it gives them another venue to play in and spread the national teams both men's and women's games around the country.  

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9 hours ago, 1996 said:

the Canadian national soccer teams it gives them another venue to play in and spread the national teams both men's and women's games around the country.  

The whole reason why I started this thread.

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Could a public-private partnership secure a CFL stadium?
JOSH HEALEY The Chronicle Herald January 4, 2018

Halifax may want to take some cues from Canada’s capital city

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part seven of a series on the latest attempt to bring a CFL team to Halifax.

PART 1: CFL in Halifax: A gamble with lots of field to cover
PART 2: Stadium talks dominates CFL expansion discussion
PART 3: Halifax CFL franchise would make football a coast-to-coast sports, says commissioner
PART 4: Would Halifax support pro football?
PART 5: Roughriders show that CFL fan support can be province-wide
PART 6: Retired CFL pros want to see Halifax team
PART 8: Stadium will make or break Halifax’s CFL bid

On Nov. 29, 2016, more than 40,000 crazed Canadian Football League fans took to the streets of Ottawa to celebrate their Redblacks winning the 104th Grey Cup.

The Grey Cup win was momentous, given that Ottawa had only rejoined the league in 2014.

But the win also represented the culmination of a project begun in 2007, including the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park and the 24,000-seat TD Place Stadium, the home of the Redblacks.

Roger Greenberg, the executive chairman and managing partner of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), said that the task of attracting a CFL team can be all-consuming.

“I could talk about it for hours. This has taken over a big chunk of my life for the last eight or nine years,” he said. “You have to have solid local ownership that is committed to sticking it through.”

And as it’s the most recent expansion in the CFL, there is an opportunity for Halifax to learn from Ottawa’s complicated return to the football world.

No easy task

Greenberg explained that when the idea of bringing a CFL team back to Ottawa was first discussed in 2007, there were a number of setbacks.

Like Halifax, the need for a stadium was the talk of the town.

The idea was that Ottawa, which had previously fielded CFL teams, would play at the old Frank Clair Stadium but it became apparent that the building was in poor shape.

“That was what really led to a very, very different process than what we had anticipated at the outset,” said Greenberg.

This new route involved a joint venture between OSEG and the City of Ottawa and included a complete redevelopment of the 40-acre Lansdowne Park area.

The project, dubbed the Lansdowne Partnership Plan (LPP), encompassed the construction of a football stadium, upgraded sports facilities for soccer and hockey, 360,000 square feet of retail space and another 100,000 square feet of office space.

Greenberg noted that there was some opposition to the project, such as an organization called the Friends of Lansdowne.

Like Halifax, those critical of LPP asked why the city should spend money on a sports facility when the money could be spent on other infrastructure.

“I think a balanced city needs to have priorities but also needs to have a balance of economic opportunities,” said Greenberg when asked how cities should prioritize expenditures.

“Lansdowne has been a huge economic driver for the city of Ottawa, creating many jobs.”

Has the project boosted the local economy?

A recent report from the City of Ottawa’s finance and economic development committee has shown the LPP has generated an increase of visitors and business to the area.

In 2016, 3.4 million people visited Lansdowne, a 41-per-cent increase from 2015. The 105th Grey Cup Festival alone was anticipated to create $100 million in economic activity for the area.

Greenberg explained that the new facilities have also attracted events such as a FIFA game, the NHL 100 Classic and dozens of festivals.

“That never would have happened but for the redevelopment of Lansdowne,” he said. “We’ve created an urban park. I would not look at it as strictly building a stadium.”

Greenberg recommended that Halifax should find an area that can support a lot of commercial development but he said that it comes at a price.

To facilitate the return of the Redblacks and the revitalization of Lansdowne, OSEG and the City of Ottawa paid nearly $600 million.

According to a representative of OSEG, the city invested $240 million to the building and renovation of the stadium and arena complex.

“Sometimes, in my view, you need to invest in order to get a return. You can’t expect cities to grow if the infrastructure is not in place,” said Greenberg.

Glen Hodgson, a senior fellow at the Conference Board of Canada and an expert in macro-economics, said that the most profitable part of Ottawa’s project is not the football team but the property development.

“A CFL team typically has revenues of around $16 million to $18 million. That makes it a fairly small business in a community,” Hodgson said. “That’s where the Ottawa model is interesting because they were able to do some property development along with attracting the CFL team. That’s where they probably made their money back, by building a condo tower and then the commercial space around the stadium.”

Mindful of the message

Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, was opposed to the LPP. He was involved in the process as both an analyst and activist, being a member of the Friends of Lansdowne.

Lee explains that Halifax should learn from Ottawa’s expansion and be mindful of how the project is sold to the public.

“You have to ask yourself, can Halifax, as a city, afford to do this? And ought we pay for this?” said Lee.

In previous interviews with The Chronicle Herald, Anthony

LeBlanc, one of the members of Maritime Football Ltd., has said that the question of a stadium, and who will pay, is the elephant in the room.

Estimates for a stadium in Halifax are north of $200 million.

Lee explained that from the beginning of the LPP, the boosters in Ottawa tried to say that taxpayers wouldn’t have to worry about footing the bill.

“Their mantra was it won’t cost the taxpayers a dime. I’m old enough and have enough experience as a business banker to know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody is paying,” he said.

Moreover, Lee said, he hopes that Halifax’s ownership will have a long, detailed discussion about different options because he feels Ottawa missed an opportunity for debate once the Frank Clair Stadium was ruled unfit.

“We never discussed any alternatives.”

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Stadium will make or break Halifax’s CFL bid
FRANCIS CAMPBELL The Chronicle Herald January 5, 2018

New attempt after 1982 bid foundered

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part eight of a series on the latest attempt to bring a CFL team to Halifax.

PART 1: CFL in Halifax: A gamble with lots of field to cover
PART 2: Stadium talks dominates CFL expansion discussion
PART 3: Halifax CFL franchise would make football a coast-to-coast sports, says commissioner
PART 4: Would Halifax support pro football?
PART 5: Roughriders show that CFL fan support can be province-wide
PART 6: Retired CFL pros want to see Halifax team
PART 7: Could a public-private partnership secure a CFL stadium?

The time is now for the Canadian Football League to expand to Halifax.

But the same was said 35 years ago when the Atlantic Schooners were ready to chart a course for the Eastern Division of the CFL. Plans and money ran short, and despite having been granted a conditional expansion franchise in 1982 that was to give rise to a team taking the field two years later, the ownership group eventually withdrew its bid.

Back in the 80’s

“Going back to the ’80s, you had a team that was working with the CFL and the CFL was kind of keen on it,” said Mike Savage, mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality. “Ever since then, people have kind of popped up and said we should have a team but what they are missing is the business case for a stadium.”

That business case is the rocky shoal on which the Schooners foundered and eventually ran aground. In May 1982, the CFL’s board of governors unanimously approved a conditional expansion franchise for the Halifax area. The team would pay a $1.5-million expansion fee by the next May and take the field for the 1984 season if a 30,000-seat stadium were built in time to host a home opener.

The Maritime Professional Football Club Ltd. ownership group initially included John Donoval, a Toronto-area trucking executive, and J.I. Albrecht, the eccentric former general manager of the Toronto and Montreal CFL teams. Later, Robert Bruce Cameron, a New Glasgow-born industrialist who had served in the Second World War before starting several businesses that included Maritime Steel and Foundries in his hometown, joined the ownership group.

The proposed team, given the name the Schooners by November 1982, planned to hire Acadia Axemen head coach John Huard to guide the franchise in its first season. A league expansion draft was planned and details were worked out for the dispersal of players from existing franchises to staff the Schooners.

The $6-million stadium was to be built on leased land in Dartmouth but the federal and provincial governments were not amenable to providing any funding for the facility. Despite considerable contributions from Cameron, the ownership group was unable to meet league deadlines for a financing plan for the new stadium.

Will CFL hunger set the table for a stadium?

Subsequently, the best bet for a stadium may have been the scuttled bid for Halifax to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Halifax was selected as the Canadian bid city in December 2005 for the 2014 Games but when the bid society was unable to pare the estimate for hosting the Games from $1.6 billion to a preferred $1 billion, the province and the municipality withdrew their support. The Halifax bid withered and the Games were eventually awarded to Glasgow, Scotland.

“The thing that bothers me is that this city does not have the gonads,” said Rick Rivers, who has been a football coach and administrator at the local, provincial and national level since moving to Halifax from Ontario nearly 40 years ago.

“A few years back we won the Commonwealth Games bid; we should have a stadium as a result of that. The federal government, the provincial and local governments, would come together. They got cold feet and left it.”

Savage recalled that, last time, a stadium was seriously considered.

“It was a third federal, a third provincial and a third municipal,” the mayor said. “Basically, the entire capital cost was being borne by levels of government with upfront capital payments. I don’t think there is an appetite for that and, actually, there wasn’t back then either because it didn’t happen.”

Still, another bid for a CFL expansion franchise has surfaced, this time from the Maritime Football Ltd. ownership group, led by New Brunswick-born businessman Anthony LeBlanc, a longtime executive with Research in Motion and the former president and chief executive of the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League. Also on the team are Bruce Bowser, a Halifax native who is president of AMJ Campbell Van Lines, and Gary Drummond, a businessman from Regina who was president of hockey operations with the Coyotes during LeBlanc’s tenure there.

The group has met with the CFL and with the HRM city council. They have spent considerable personal funds on a poll to gauge fan interest, a cost-benefit analysis and legal representation. They hope to soon test season ticket sales and attract corporate sponsors.

“I think it’s fair to say that we need to either get this done or come to a decision that it is not doable,” LeBlanc said. “But we are certainly not looking at it in that (not doable) manner.”

Savage acknowledged that the business group is doing a lot of work behind the scenes.

“There isn’t anything at this point to present to council but we certainly are hopeful and anticipate that when they have formulated a plan, particularly around a stadium, that they’ll come forward. They are a serious group of people, they know what they are doing and I have a lot of faith in their ability to make this happen.”

LeBlanc said the capital structure and ownership of the stadium has not yet been discussed.

“Usually what happens is there is a public-private entity that owns and operates the facility,” LeBlanc said. “That’s kind of getting ahead of ourselves. From our perspective, the perspective of the ownership group of the franchise, we certainly understand that we are going to have to participate in the ownership, or at least the money that goes into building a stadium. Who operates or owns it, those are things that will get figured out.”

Savage doesn’t figure on the city owning it.

“As a municipality, we don’t want to own a stadium,” Savage said. “If you build a stadium, then you have to run it. I don’t think governments are ideally suited to do that. The idea would be that somebody would own it and run it. I think that is where you have your concerts instead of tearing up the Commons. You could have games, whether it is the Indigenous Games, the Senior Games, the University Games, the Commonwealth Games, all those kinds of things.”

If it was built

Moshe Lander, a Concordia University professor who specializes in the economics of sports, said a stadium would have limited use.

“If you end up with a stadium, how else is it going to be used other than the 10 times a year for the CFL?” Lander said. “Are you really going to have outdoor concerts in a 30,000-40,000-seat stadium? Are you going to have an MLS (Major League Soccer) franchise in Halifax? It’s unlikely. That sort of economics is that it’s going to be used 10 times, you might be able to squeeze a few other uses out of it. Other than that, it is going to sit primarily empty. So, who bears the cost if it is sitting empty?

What then, if anything, is different this time around from previous CFL rumblings?

“It’s definitely different,” Savage said. “Whether it’s different enough, we’ll find out.

“Getting an arrangement with the CFL whereby they would come here would take some work but it is very manageable. Putting an ownership group together for a team is a little more difficult but manageable. Getting the stadium, that’s the ballgame. That’s the jackpot right there.”

Lander said the difference from 35 years ago could be the growth of the city.

“Halifax is not going to build itself up to a world-class city but it’s certainly a very respectable Canadian city as an anchor of Atlantic Canada,” Lander said. “You can see the beginning of the high-rise developments that are starting to surface on the skyline, corporate headquarters that are starting to locate to Halifax or locate offices there. Lower Water is becoming more of a younger-trending area. Incomes are rising and it’s moved away from the stereotype old-fashioned fishing town to something a little more modern and dynamic.

“Now is the time to be a professional sports city. This is probably it. You are not going to be an NHL town, you are not going to have an NFL team, you are not even going to have MLS, so this is kind of the last missing piece.”

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New McMahon? CFL commissioner would love to chat
Daniel Austin Calgary Sun January 11, 2018

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The Calgary Stampeders decided to have a lock out this week at McMahon stadium in preparation for Saturdays game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Darren Makowichuk Postmedia Calgary

BANFF – Randy Ambrosie would clearly love to see the Calgary Stampeders playing in a new stadium.

But the CFL commissioner isn’t going to threaten to move the team. He’s not going to try to influence local elections, and he’s not going to call Calgary’s mayor names.

If anyone wants to sit down and chat about the pros and cons of building a new stadium, though, he’d love to do so.

“Just give me the name of the person I need to go and see, and I’ll happily show up on their doorstep and make a pitch for why Calgary would be well-served (by a new stadium),” Ambrosie said Wednesday from the CFL’s annual GM meetings in Banff.

The CFL has seen a sudden rush of new stadiums and renovations to old facilities in recent years.

The B.C. Lions, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Toronto Argonauts and the Ottawa Redblacks have all seen either major renovations to their stadiums or have built new homes entirely, often in conjunction with local governments.

The Stampeders, though, are still playing in good old McMahon Stadium, built in 1961 and by far the most beat-up building in the league.

Getting a new facility has largely taken a backseat to ownership’s efforts to get a new arena built for the Calgary Flames, but Ambrosie clearly believes the city would benefit by looking at its options for a new stadium, as well.

“I believe putting a new stadium in that city is not just about the CFL. It is a lot about the CFL, but there’s a lot of great amateur football being played there,” Ambrosie said. “There’s the Dinos. There’s the great junior football team (the Colts). There’s an opportunity to attract national and international events. Development in our cities and the ability of our cities to attract events is a critical part of how these cities function, and I think it’s time for Calgary to come up with a solution for a new stadium.”

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Bidder for Halifax franchise in the CFL says 2018 will be a big year for the group
Tim Baines Postmedia January 12, 2018

What a few years ago seemed more like a pipe dream, a coast-to-coast Canadian Football League could become an on-field reality by 2020.

While the “stars would have to align” and plenty of hurdles would have to be cleared, a strong Maritime bid for the CFL’s 10th franchise could pay off in the next few months, with CFL shovels in the ground on a new stadium in Halifax before year’s end.

“Everything needs to go right, and I’ve never been involved in a project where that happens,” said Anthony LeBlanc, an Ottawa resident and the front man for the Maritime bid. “Sure, we have desires. Then there’s reality.

“We’ll spend the better part of 2018 doing all the approvals and everything that’s necessary in starting to build a stadium. Best case, in the next six to eight months we have everything wrapped up. By best-case scenario, we have a team on the field by 2020, but that’s a real stretch. I think 2021 is more realistic. Just as long as we get it done. I don’t want it to be 2025 and we’re still talking about this. By the end of 2018, if we don’t have some shovels in the ground or at least real strong approvals, I’d be getting concerned. I’m a realist that these things can take time. Look at Ottawa. It took them (six) years before (the Redblacks) were up and playing.

“The stuff we’re working on right now is twofold: finalizing what I would say is an initial agreement with the league, and we’re getting ready to finalize economic impact analysis to go to the city and to the province with a proposal of how we can work together. We hope to have something to both those bodies in the next four to six weeks.”

LeBlanc knows there will be questions. Is it fiscally responsible for the governments involved? Does it make good business sense?

“There are people questioning if this is the right thing to do,” LeBlanc said. “That’s totally fair. If you’re a taxpayer and you think your taxpayer dollars aren’t being used correctly, you should have the ability to question it. The onus is on us to illustrate this is a good economic driver.”

A bit of background on how this thing got going. LeBlanc was part of a group that owned the Arizona Coyotes from 2013 to 2017 before being bought out by another partner, Andrew Barroway. LeBlanc was the Coyotes’ president, CEO and an alternate governor. When it looked like a solid bet that Barroway would take over the Coyotes, LeBlanc and Gary Drummond, the National Hockey League team’s president of hockey operations, started talking about the CFL.

“He’s from Regina and obviously a big fan of the CFL,” LeBlanc said. “We thought, ‘Where do we start?’ I called Bobby Smith, he owns the (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax) Mooseheads and is a former GM of the Coyotes. We got together. I wanted to make sure he was cool with it. I didn’t want to do anything that was offensive to the Mooseheads operation. He said, ‘No, this would be great for the region.’

“I asked if he’d be interested, he said, ‘Probably not, but you should talk to my cousin.’ It turns out his cousin, Richard Butts, was the city manager for Halifax. Richard put together a bunch of meetings for me to fly into Halifax. I met with the chamber of commerce, the local economic development group and the mayor (Mike Savage). The mayor said, ‘We’ve had a lot of people come through our doors over the years and they just don’t seem to understand that we can’t just go out and build a stadium. We want to be part of it, but we can’t lead it.’ ”

The mayor hooked LeBlanc up with another businessman, AMJ Campbell Van Lines CEO Bruce Bowser, who had also shown interest in a CFL team in Atlantic Canada.

“We met with the mayor, we met with the premier,” LeBlanc said. “We were pretty successful with keeping it quiet for four months or so. In that period of time, we probably met with the Halifax regional municipality 10 times, the province a handful of times. We met with a bunch of local organizations, we met with the league multiple times, presented to the board of governors. We did a lot of legwork before it became public. It’s just kind of developed its own inertia. There’s still a lot of work to do. The elephant in the room is the stadium. But we seem to have everything coming together.”

What Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group has done with Lansdowne Park — with condos, bars and restaurants around the stadium and arena — is something of a model for what the Maritime Football group is pushing toward. While nothing is official, there has been a trademark application made on Atlantic Schooners.

“If I could just pick up Lansdowne and move it to a plot of land in Halifax, that’s definitely what we’d want to do,” LeBlanc said. “These guys have hit it out of the park. But it will depend on which site we end up at. Some of the sites are already relatively built up. We have more opportunity for some of that mixed-use development in a couple of the sites we’re looking at compared to some of the others.”

Will football work in Halifax? Can a CFL team find success and maybe extend itself beyond past the boundaries of Halifax and Nova Scotia into neighbouring provinces?

“If we do things right, if we’re sincere and in for the long haul — all things we plan to be — we do think we can replicate that magic you see out in Regina,” LeBlanc said. “I think this will be an absolute success.”

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1 hour ago, lazlo_80 said:

Looks alot like Avaya in San Jose.

Yes it does, good eye, very interesting, HOK did the design for this at 100 million and the prospective CFL owners said they had a California company do the design (Gensler in San Francisco, 50 or so miles from San Jose).  I guess Gensler knows the way to San Jose :)

I4VOPGg.jpg

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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Hamilton stadium lawsuit officially settled clearing way for Grey Cup bid
Matthew Van Dongen, The Hamilton Spectator May 31, 2018

The city says more stadium repairs are coming following the settlement of a lawsuit over its problem-plagued $145-million stadium – but taxpayers aren’t on the hook for any extra costs.

The Spectator reported two weeks ago the city, province and Hamilton Tiger-Cats had effectively reached an agreement to end competing lawsuits worth tens of millions of dollars over Tim Hortons Field.

The formal settlement announcement Thursday noted virtually all details will stay secret under the deal between the city, Ticats, Infrastructure Ontario, Pan Am Games organizing committee and stadium contractor Ontario Sports Solutions.

But Mayor Fred Eisenberger emphasized taxpayers won’t be dinged for any extra costs due to the long-running litigation, which started with dueling court claims in spring 2016. “As a result of the resolution, the city is on budget and has sufficient monies remaining to complete final works at the stadium,” he said.

Repairs that are still needed three years after the stadium opened include sealing ongoing expansion joint leaks, fixing floor drains, adding speakers to address complaints about sound dead zones and installing taller guardrails along the top of some stands and stairs, said facilities head Rom D’Angelo.

The tenders for those repairs should go out in the next few weeks, he said. “At that point, we have a finished stadium,” he said.

Since the stadium was handed over late and unfinished ahead of the 2015 Pan Am Games, the city has already stepped in to fix leaks, missing draft beer lines, unsafe railings and rain-damaged television screens. It also commissioned a safety audit after a tower speaker plunged into the empty stands in 2016. The cost of all those jobs were covered by withheld stadium payments to the contractor.

The settlement also provides unspecified compensation to the Tiger-Cats for losses due to construction delays and other stadium deficiencies.

In a brief statement, the Ticats said the team is satisfied with the settlement and happy to “turn the page” on the litigation to work with the city on common goals like bringing a CFL Grey Cup football game and professional soccer to Hamilton.

Eisenberger also said the settlement “clears the way” for the Ticats and city to work toward securing a Grey Cup and “possibly” bring professional soccer to Hamilton.

He added there is still a “difference of opinion” between the city and team over whether the Tiger-Cats have a valid lease to run a soccer franchise at Tim Hortons Field. (A new Canadian Premier League is supposed to start play next year, with Hamilton already listed online as a founding member playing out of Tim Hortons Field.)

Eisenberger said he looks forward to resuming discussions with the team that have “been on hold” due to the city’s policy of not working with parties that are suing the city.

City councillors also citied that policy in refusing to consider a team-sponsored winter dome over the Tim Hortons Field playing surface last year.

The release does not specify what compensation was provided to either the city or Ticats.

The city originally filed a $35-million legal claim against Infrastructure Ontario and the stadium contractor, including $14 million on behalf of the Ticats for losses due to construction delays and other problems.

But at the same time, the city also claimed $4.5 million against the team for delays allegedly caused by the team. The Ticats filed a counterclaim against the city that listed more than 30 stadium defects and issues, but did not specify a particular dollar value.

Infrastructure Ontario spokesperson Lee Greenberg said in a statement the settlement “confirms the project was completed on budget.”

He said the provincial agency is “proud to have delivered this project in a way that protected taxpayers despite the many challenges faced during construction.”

Council discussed the lawsuit behind closed doors weeks ago and emerged to vote on secret directions to staff. Councillors Terry Whitehead and Donna Skelly voted against the closed-door decision, but did not specify why.

Whitehead said he can’t talk about the details of the settlement, but specified Thursday his vote was against a “lack of transparency,” not the settlement itself.

“My thinking was when you deal with taxpayers money, the community has a right to know those dollar figures,” he said.

The cost of tendered repair work will eventually become public.

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Location down to two sites for Halifax CFL stadium
Francis Campbell The Chronicle Herald July 9, 2018

Question of funding remains the bigger issue for ownership group

 The group that wants to bring the Canadian Football League to Halifax has narrowed its search for a stadium location to two sites.

“We’re down to two, a preferred site and a backup site,” said Anthony LeBlanc, one of three principals in Maritime Football Ltd., the corporate entity that hopes to establish a 10th league team in Nova Scotia.

LeBlanc, who met with CFL team executives in Winnipeg on Friday to present a business plan review, said he and his partnership are negotiating with site owners and hope to finalize a site soon.

“We’re trying to get the best terms possible.”

That is what Halifax Regional Municipality seeks also.

“We think it has to make sense for the municipality but we also want something that’s transit oriented,” Mayor Mike Savage said of a potential stadium after regional council met in camera with the Maritime Football group last month. “I don’t think anybody is interested in building an old style stadium with 20,000 parking spots.”

The likely stadium sites are Dartmouth Crossing and a property behind the Kent store in Bayers Lake business park.

The question of funding for the stadium, which would seat about 25,000 people and likely cost in excess of $200 million to build, remains a bigger riddle than a potential site.

“We certainly think it’s the right way to go,” LeBlanc said of the stadium redevelopment plan at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa that was part of the successful strategy to bring the CFL and the expansion Redblacks to Canada’s capital four years ago.

“There is the creation of the fan experience of having things that you can do other than just going to the game,” said LeBlanc, former president of the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League. “These types of facilities, they are not just football. ... It becomes an economic driver and it helps to build kind of those mini-communities.”

The Lansdowne redevelopment plan was built on providing sports, shopping, living and parkland. The sporting and living elements may be the most successful tenants to date of the $300-million 16-hectare urban park located next to the Rideau Canal in central Ottawa. The stadium complex was rebuilt and retail and residential developments were added, including basketball courts, a water park and skate park. The city kicked in a major chunk of the redevelopment cost, retained ownership of the site and leased the commercial and retail components under a revenue-sharing deal with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

“Obviously, the difference between Ottawa and the sites we’re looking at is that we’ve been pretty open that there isn’t a site in, call it downtown Halifax, that is sufficient,” LeBlanc said. “The green neighbourhood in Ottawa is a little bit different than the sites we’re looking at but we feel comfortable that there is a true mixed-use development potential.”

Savage said after the June meeting that if there is a way that HRM can contribute to a stadium without digging deep into capital, “maybe that’s the way to go.”

“What they are looking at, I think they have been public about this, is (something) that’s offset against future potential tax revenue in the area that they want to build,” he said.

Savage said in June that it’s time to take the CFL talk public, suggesting holding a future council meeting that would be open to the public.

Shaune MacKinley, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the agenda for the next council meeting, on July 17, won’t be readied and released until Friday.

“He is still committed to that,” MacKinley said of going public with the CFL dialogue.

LeBlanc said the two proposed sites would be revealed at that public meeting, whenever it is scheduled.

LeBlanc said he and co-owners Bruce Bowser, a Halifax native who is president of AMJ Campbell Van Lines, and Gary Drummond, a businessman from Regina who was president of hockey operations with the Coyotes during LeBlanc’s tenure there, have their finances in order.

“From an investment point of view, we’re comfortable where our group is now,” he said. “If there are local, strategic investors who are interested, we’re always interested in adding them to the fold, but that isn’t a requirement.”

Fan support is a requirement.

“We’ve talked extensively with the league, HRM and the province about this that we’re probably going to take a play out of the playbook in other league’s recent expansion. If you look at Las Vegas and Seattle in the NHL, one of the conditional precedents was to go out and do a season ticket drive, so everybody knows that the market that everyone thinks is there is really there. I think it’s fair to say that that will absolutely be part of our plan.”

The Las Vegas model included playing for the NHL title and the Stanley Cup in the Golden Knights’ inaugural season.

“I have no problem with that,” LeBlanc said.

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CFL Stadium Proposal Update & Staff Direction

Maritime Football Limited Partnership has identified Shannon Park as the preferred location for the proposed Halifax multi-use stadium.

They are in discussion with Canada Lands Company to secure up to 20 acres for the development of a 24,000 seat stadium.

According to the report, the construction cost will range between 170 and 190 million dollars

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Group behind Halifax CFL expansion bid picks stadium site
Dave Naylor TSN October 26 2018

Maritime Football Ltd., the group hoping to establish a Canadian Football League expansion franchise in Halifax, hopes to build a 24,000-seat multi-use stadium at Shannon Park, a site located in the north end area of Dartmouth on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour.
 
The stadium, which would cost $170 million to $190 million and wouldn’t be ready before 2021, would be constructed and maintained with both the provincial and municipal government as funding partners.
 
That information is contained in a document titled “CFL Stadium Proposal Update and Staff Direction” that was posted on the Halifax Regional Municipality’s website Friday morning in advance of the Oct. 30 regional council meeting where a series of recommendations will be presented to council by staff.
 
Those recommendations include completing a thorough business case analysis on the proposal for a stadium and stadium district development, engaging with the province for permission to contribute financially to a stadium through tax incremental financing or other means, engaging with the prospective owners and the province on potential sources of revenue to finance the stadium, and asking for a final recommendation to proceed or not proceed as a funding partner in a new stadium.

If approved by council next Tuesday, it’s expected to take at least three months for a final report and recommendation to be completed.
 
Shannon Park, one of six sites that were under consideration, is a 95-acre site that was used by the Department of Defence for housing from the early 1950s until 2003. Eighty-five acres of the site are owned by Canada Lands Company (CLC). The prospective team owners are in negotiations with the CLC to purchase a 20-acre segment that would house the stadium, parking and some commercial development.
 
Shannon Park was previously considered as a stadium site as part of a bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup, neither of which came to fruition.
 
Maritime Football Ltd., founded by businessmen Anthony LeBlanc, Bruce Bowser and Gary Drummond, presented their vision to the CFL in the fall of 2017 and are in the final stages of negotiating with the league for a conditional expansion franchise.
 
The more challenging part of the equation has always been construction of a stadium.
 
The report states that, “It is expected that the [municipality’s] contribution to a stadium would include being a funding partner on the capital cost to construct the stadium as well as possibly being a contributor to ongoing capital repairs and maintenance.”
 
Some of that funding could come from tax increment funding, where any incremental tax revenues within the stadium district could be directed for development or capital financing.
 
The report says debt financing on the stadium is expected to be $9 million to $10 million annually.
 
The report also states stadium financing requires the province to become a funding partner, recognizing that the Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has stated that this would require new sources of revenue, and can’t be drawn from existing ones. It mentions specifically the possibility of an increase to the hotel marketing levy tax or the development of a car rental tax.

If council votes to move forward with the business case study and negotiations with the province, Maritime Football Ltd. is expected to start a season-ticket campaign in November

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Financial details murky as Halifax stadium proposal takes a step forward
Zane Woodford StarMetro Halifax Oct 30 2018

HALIFAX—A football franchise and stadium is a step closer to reality, but serious questions remain about the financial risk involved for the municipality.

Halifax regional council voted unanimously in favour of a staff report on a business case analysis of the stadium proposal on Tuesday. The motion passed will also see municipal staff work with the provincial government on a long list of necessary legislative amendments and potential funding sources.

It also means the proponents, Maritime Football Limited Partnership (MFLP), will start consulting the public on their plans for a 24,000-seat stadium in Shannon Park in Dartmouth to host a CFL expansion team for the 2021 season.

“There’s a lot of players at the table, but I think ultimately there’s optimism that we can do this, as long as everybody is at the table understanding what the shared risk is,” Anthony LeBlanc, founding partner of MFLP told reporters after the vote.

“We’ll move the ball down the field.”

Building the stadium would cost between $170 million and $190 million, but it’s still unclear who’s footing that bill.

LeBlanc said MFLP would take on the operational risk of the stadium, meaning the ongoing costs once it’s built. He pegged those at $3 million annually or more.

“We plan on being the sole group at risk in regard to the operations of the facility,” he said.

The financing risk, not so much.

“I didn’t say we’d take on the risk,” he said. “We would take on the operational risk. We were very clear we would take on the operational risk. That’s not the financing risk. We said we would take on the operational risk.”

LeBlanc wouldn’t say whether MFLP would borrow the money.

“The conversation about how the money will flow, who will sign up for it, those are to be determined. We don’t have answers for that for you right now,” he said.

He wouldn’t say whether MFLP would need either the municipal or provincial government to guarantee the loan.

“We would need government involved at the table in some fashion in regards to how the loan structure is put together. I don’t have an answer for you on that,” he said.

And LeBlanc wouldn’t say whether MFLP would need to borrow the money at the province’s financing rates.

“I don’t have an answer for you on the specifics of the financing.”

LeBlanc said MFLP is willing to contribute to the capital funding, but “those are ongoing discussions, so the last thing I would do is tip my hat at this point in regards to what we would be contributing.”

The key question now, according to LeBlanc is, “What is the acceptable risk level from each level involved, including ourselves?”

During Tuesday’s council meeting, chief administrative office Jacques Dubé told councillors that the municipality wouldn’t own the stadium or the debt.

In fact, he said Halifax wouldn’t be taking on any financial risk.

“We’re not looking to take construction risk. We’re not looking to take financial risk on the project,” he said.

Dubé’s plan to pay for the stadium is a controversial financing model called Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The municipality would create a TIF district around the stadium, and the property taxes from the commercial development planned in that area would ostensibly pay for the debt financing costs — $9 million to $10 million annually.

It’s a similar model to one used for the Nova Centre in downtown Halifax, where council planned to pay for its share of the convention centre using the property taxes from the project as a whole. That’s not working out, but Dubé said it’ll be different this time.

“The main difference is, the TIF model would be, whatever the TIF generates is what would be returned,” he said. “There would be no financial risk to HRM under a TIF model as compared to the other model. That’s the major difference here.”

Dubé said he believes the TIF would bring in between $5 million and $6 million annually. To make up the remaining $4 million to $5 million, the municipality would ask the province to create a new car rental tax and increase the existing hotel marketing levy.

That would require legislative change from the provincial government, as would the TIF plan, and the expedited planning process to get the stadium built.

Mayor Mike Savage said the math didn’t add up for him, but he wants more information.

“I don’t really yet have my head around how the TIF works. It doesn’t make sense to me, ‘Well if we don’t collect it, we don’t pay it.’ That seems like, there’s gotta be more to it than that,” he said during debate.

But Savage doesn’t have any doubts about the location — “I think a stadium at Shannon Park would be completely awesome” — or the viability of a CFL team — “I have absolutely no doubt that football will be successful if it comes to Halifax. I know that in my heart.”

LeBlanc is going to set out to prove that in the coming months with a season-ticket drive and a team-naming contest.

“We feel very good about the potential, but we need to go out and see if it’s real,” he said. “If there’s no season ticket holder base, quite candidly, I don’t think anybody wants to proceed.”

Dubé said the staff report on the stadium would take about six months. When it comes back next year, he said it will include all infrastructure costs for the municipality, like water, sewer, road networks, ferry and bus infrastructure, public safety, parks an recreation and any ongoing servicing costs.

The land at Shannon Park, owned by a federal Crown corporation called Canada Lands Company (CLC), was used as military housing till it was decommissioned more than 10 years ago. The buildings were torn down last year and it’s since sat vacant.

MFLP would use a six-to-eight-hectare portion of the 38-hectare site for the stadium and surrounding commercial development.

Before it will sell the land to MFLP, CLC requires the proponents to prove that they have to public support and the support of the Millbrook First Nation, which is in the process of acquiring about three hectares of the site.

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