Published on November 8, 2018 8:31 PM by dbo.
News articles come fast with the Maritime Football Limited Partnership getting more visible since HRM council approving the development of a stadium business case. This is an opportunity to catch up on items you may not have seen.
Maritime Football Limited Partnership principle Anthony LeBlanc serving as CEO of cannabis company is apparently news in regard to the stadium and franchise proposal. Plans for a season ticket drive was considered premature by some.
The well-known plan for a season ticket deposit campaign on Wednesday, November 8th was announced Tuesday. The announcement answered some questions, but others like the cost of tickets and stadium design were left to be answered later. Anthony LeBlanc sat down for an interview later to discuss the season ticket launch, stadium and dates. The team has no league-imposed goal for ticket deposits, but would like to see at least 50% of the proposed capacity.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie spoke at the event, outlining the support behind a Halifax franchise. More information about the name suggestions and contest for ticket depositors was also revealed.
Update Nov. 12, 2018
An opposed to stadium op-ed tries to find alternatives that are cheaper and pose less risk. Such alternatives should be explored. Certainly there are already rumours of local universities being pitched on sharing the stadium. However, simple inspection shows the current location of Huskies Stadium is not large enough to accommodate any stadium, and using Point Pleasant Park green space should be a non-starter for anyone. Business isn’t as easy as stating “To cover the costs, Maritime Football could partner with investors, offering stadium ownership, naming rights, shared profits for football games and profits from other events. Irving Field has a nice ring to it.” If only it were legal to slap some businesses name on your stadium and then stick your hand out and demand money from them. The stadium proposers are expected to bring harder facts to the table, so the opposing views should be held to the same standard, and provide at least napkin numbers to their proposals or leave these ideas out of their op-eds.
The article further shows continued lack of touch with business reality by using other team attendance figures as a basis for the stadium size. Absolutely, Halifax can size the stadium at 14,000, but ticket prices will be at least 42% higher than other cities in order to break even. This would be similar to building a hotel, and sizing it at 10-rooms because that is how many rooms were occupied in a competitor on their worst night. The ownership group understand the business model, and the size of stadium needed to achieve the revenue and scarcity of ticket the local economy will support. They would be sure to walk away from such a plan proposed by Halifax leaders, and Halifax should be wary of any group accepting an under-20,000 seat stadium as the risk they will fail in the long run is certainly higher. A football team is a real business, with salaries, travel expenses, and other business costs.
Another analysis fears a stadium could tag Halifax taxpayers with a bundle of debt. The cherry-picking of facts which are outdated and out of scale indicate dogma at work, or the need to find facts to fit the conclusion. Using Rogers Centre in Toronto, built over 30 years ago and Olympic Stadium in Montreal, built over 40 years ago, both retractable dome stadiums, as examples that confirm all stadiums have cost overruns is unusual for a Halifax comparison to say the least. As with any facts, the story is in the context around them, not in the facts themselves. Regina’s Mosaic stadium cost is noted, but not that it was constructed on time and budget. The only reason for including it is to infer that the $170-190 million proposed stadium cost is underestimated because Regina’s cost $278 million. If the stadium price tag provides fear that Halifax won’t receive a stadium worthy of it considering what Regina built, then say that. Rather than selectively choosing examples, aggregate data of estimates, final costs and construction length of similar-sized stadiums built in the last decade would better prove the point. The absence of such makes me think either writer laziness or the facts do not support the case are the cause.
All should be involved in the public process to examine alternatives and prod the city to build Halifax’s stadium, none at all, or not the potential ownership group’s version, but those with forums should do a little more to understand the business of a CFL stadium and team before throwing facts around without context. I am much more inclined to believe an argument that explains in the face of both positions why their’s is correct rather than misrepresentations to achieve fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Halifax does not need to build a stadium at all, nor build a stadium like the ones in Regina, Ottawa or Hamilton. Haligonians are smart enough to understand this is a complex arrangement which cannot be decided between fear and hope. Both sides would better serve the community by stopping the selling and presenting forthright explanations of the benefits and risks.