All Halifax activity surrounding a stadium project was put on pause with the advent of a global pandemic in 2020.
The first Schooners Sports and Entertainment stadium proposal was delivered in the fall 2019 to city staff who issued a number of recommendations on changes to agreement. It was voted on by Halifax Regional Municipality council on Dec. 10, 2019, rejecting the majority of the outlined agreement, including the Shannon Park proposed location and funding model. The vote passed 10-7 to proceed with requesting a proposal for a stadium based on an acceptable site, a one-time $20 million contribution to the stadium project with no ownership or management responsibilities, and full taxes paid on the stadium and land, among other conditions. SSE was asked to submit a proposal that met these conditions for the requisite approval by HRM. This process was expected to take three to six months.
Developments in early 2019 saw the Schooners Sports and Entertainment group confirm a mid-2019 proposal and decision on a stadium in Halifax. The stadium design changed to take a more phased approach, cutting the amenities of the stadium and reducing the cost by $50 million. Such changes are seen as addressing concerns with the project and are being developed by the private group but not seen by Halifax politicians.
By late December, 2018, the potential franchise owners announced over 6,000 deposits on tickets had been made, and coverage of the site cleanup contract included an rendering of the potential stadium location.
In December, the City of Charlottetown announced they will officially support a Halifax bid for a CFL franchise. Canadian singer Tom Cochrane also joined the ownership group vying to bring a franchise to Halifax.
On October 30, 2018, Halifax Regional Municipality council voted unanimously to take 3-6 months for city staff to develop a business case for a stadium that would outline the cost sharing and benefits.
In July 2018, Halifax Regional Municipality council voted 16-0 to allow city administrators and staff to enter into discussions with Maritime Football Ltd. and the province about the opportunities and risks a stadium and CFL franchise would bring to Halifax. A report from these discussions is to advise council on the viability of a franchise/stadium for Halifax, and if accepted, further approval would be required to negotiate any stadium partnership if the city wished to be involved.
In late 2017, reports surfaced that a serious ownership group made inquiries with the CFL regarding an expansion franchise for Halifax. The group has met with local and provincial officials and is expected to develop a stadium plan by mid-2018. A conditional franchise could be awarded, turning into a unconditional franchise when the requirement for a final agreement to construct a stadium and lease are completed, with a team joining the league upon completion of the stadium, though the potential owners are exploring Moncton as a possible site to play while a stadium is built in order to launch early.
In the past 2 decades, there were discussions about building a stadium in Halifax around bids for the Commonwealth Games or other events but they were abandoned due to the overall cost. Most recently a report by municipal staff recommended a study be commissioned to determine the “financial case, business model and feasibility” of a regional sized stadium on the Shannon Park site. Initiating a stadium study was rejected by municipal councillors opening the way for plans the Shannon Park lands to be developed.
The stadium issue started to get more attention in the summer of 2013 under a new mayor and a poll showed the majority of citizens were in favour of attracting a CFL team.
In 2011, the city commissioned a study to determine the size, seating and potential uses of a stadium. Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly stated plans for a stadium must move forward regardless of an anchor tenant like a Canadian Football League franchise being present.
In 2010, Halifax wanted to get in on the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a new 20,000 seat stadium. The event was awarded to Canada with six cities across the country set to host games, with Halifax one of the seven to apply despite having a proper facility at this time. In Dec. 2011 a committee recommended a 14,000 permanent seat stadium be constructed with the capability to add 6,000 temporary seats in order to hold FIFA events. The city tried to find funding to cover the remaining $51 million estimated cost after the city’s $20 million contribution. With the March 31st deadline approaching, staff recommended the city pass on the stadium and inform the Canadian Soccer Association they are pulling out of contention as a host city for the 2014 and 2015 FIFA events. The city was not able to find any funding partners at the public or private level.
Plans for a Halifax stadium never materialized after a CFL franchise was conditionally awarded in 1982 to a group to place a team in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. There were no stadium plans or location from the ownership group, who expected the stadium would be constructed for $10-$15 million, though the CFL expected a 30,000 seat stadium with 20,000 seats between the goal lines. Four or five sites were of interest for the stadium location (known in number only, not by exact location), but the project never progressed far enough to select a site or develop stadium designs or plans. The group withdrew their application for a franchise before the league imposed deadline when they could not meet the conditions of the franchise.
The announcement of the 2023 CFL schedule on Dec. 14, 2022 included no mention of Touchdown Atlantic, but less than a week later it was announced the July 29, 2023 SSK vs TOR game would be the 2023 Touchdown Atlantic game hosted by temporary seating at Huskies Stadium on St. Mary’s University campus. The 11,000 tickets sold out on the first day, and the league added 1,000 more tickets to the Church Brewing Party Zone.
In 2022, Touchdown Atlantic was played at Raymond Field on the campus of Acadia University in Wolfville, NS.
In 2021, no Touchdown Atlantic was held in a shortened season.
In 2020, the released schedule had a July 25th SSK vs TOR game to be held at Huskies Stadium on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Initial plans were to expand Huskies Stadium to 20,000 temporary seats for the game. Ultimately the game was cancelled when the season was lost to a global pandemic.
The release of the 2019 CFL schedule revealed a 2019 regular season “Touchdown Atlantic” game would be played in Atlantic Canada, presented by Schooners Sports and Entertainment. Saint Mary’s University in Halifax was one of the locations being considered to host the game with temporary seating to accommodate 20,000-25,000 fans. Other locations considered included Moncton, St. FX in Antigonish and Saint John, New Brunswick. Ultimately, the game was hosted in Moncton for the fourth time.
Huskies Stadium 2023 seating chart (this chart is from before knowledge the league was adding 1,000 tickets to the Party Zone)
Single Point May 2023: Construction of Temp Stadium at SMU Underway
Single Point Dec. 2019: Halifax Approves Stadium Funds With Conditions
Article Nov. 2018: Atlantic Roundup
Single Point Nov. 2018: Reserve Your Atlantic CFL Tickets
Article Nov. 2018: Halifax: Final Stage
Single Point Oct. 2018: Maritime Football Ltd. Introduces Themselves in Op-Ed
Article Oct. 2018: Halifax Stadium Proposal Released
Article Jul. 2018: Halifax Forward
Single Point Jun. 2018: Moncton Wants Part of Atlantic Region Team
Article May 2018: Halifax Rundown
Article Dec. 2017: Regarding Halifax Expansion
Link Nov. 2015: Report Recommends Further Study For Halifax Stadium
Article Sept. 2013: Stadium Labour Day
Article May 2012: Stadium Update
Article March 2012: Halifax Debates What Could Have Been
Article March 2012: Stadium Highs, Stadium Lows
Article Feb. 2012: Grass, Stadiums, Franchises and the Grey Cup
Link March 2011: Halifax Proceeding With Stadium Study
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