A CFL Team In Halifax?

Last week, I ran across a report saying that a group of people wanted to add a franchise to the Canadian Football League and locate the franchise in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  According to the report, the team backers had gotten to the point that they were starting a “name-the-team contest”; and in order to get a vote in the contest, one had to sign up for season tickets.  That seems to be a good way to measure fan interest in the region and to generate publicity around the potential franchise to engender more interest.  The CFL honchos would like to see just how much interest exists there.

Regarding a place to play, the report said that the folks proposing the franchise have located some vacant land in Halifax and want to build a 24,000-seat stadium there – – but it will require some public money.  Estimated costs run to about $190M; the plan is for the team to begin play in 2021.  The Halifax city-fathers are studying the business aspects of the stadium proposal.

My long-suffering wife and I have been to Nova Scotia twice and we loved it both times that we were there.  However, my recollection was that Nova Scotia as a province was sparsely populated and I wondered if it could support a CFL team.  According to Google, the Halifax Regional Municipality has a population just over 400,000 people and the province itself hosts 940,000 folks.  That is more that I would have guessed but it still seems as if it might be a tad thin to support a team.

I sent an email to Gregg Drinnan who was the sports editor of the Kamloops Daily News until that newspaper ceased to exist and who now authors an excellent blog, Taking Note.  I referenced this report and asked him if he thought Halifax was a big enough market for a CFL franchise.  I also asked about Quebec City as an alternative site in Eastern Canada if indeed the league wanted another team in that part of the country to balance out the CFL.  Here are the cogent sections of his response:

“My heart says yes, but my head says no. . . . Twenty or 30 years ago, maybe. But not now. I don’t think the population is there [in Nova Scotia] and expenses never seem to go down. So I don’t know that a team there will generate the revenue needed to run a franchise, even in the CFL.

“I don’t know what the aversion is to Quebec City. The university teams in Quebec have pretty good followings, as do the ones in the Maritimes. But QC obviously has more population. I do think there is more political will to provide a place to play in Halifax than there is in Quebec City.”

Adding a team to the CFL would be a good idea just so the league can field an even number of teams.  Currently there are 5 Western Teams and 4 Eastern Teams.  In the CFL playoffs that just began, the British Columbia Lions – whose home is in Vancouver – were playing in the Eastern bracket.  Say what?

Switching gears …  According to reports, Carmelo Anthony’s “honeymoon in Houston” may be ending soon after his arrival there.  In a game against the Spurs, Anthony did not play due to an unspecified illness.  In the game before that – against the Thunder, Anthony shot 1 for 11 from the floor and 0 for 6 from 3-point range.  Coach Mike D’Antoni had no comment regarding Anthony’s absence from the lineup which would not be an outrageous circumstance except for the fact that D’Antoni and Anthony lived through some scratchy times with one another when both were with the Knicks.  It did not end well in NYC in the days before Anthony’s skills began to erode.  I suspect it will not end well in Houston…

Remember a few years ago when Baylor football was in the spotlight based on allegations that members of the football team routinely engaged in sexual assaults and that the football team – under Art Briles – covered up those activities.  After an investigation, the university fired Art Briles and its university president, Kenneth Starr.  Well, the Big 12 Conference seemingly is not done with Baylor yet.  Since all of this came to light and an investigation showed that the school was less than diligent in handling these matters, the Conference has been withholding a portion of Baylor’s Big-12 Conference generated revenue.  A recent report says that the withholding amounts to just under $15M.  Evidently, the folks who run the Big-12 have figured out how to close the books on this sordid mess:

  • The “$15M” in withheld revenue will be invested in an escrow account and that account will run for the next 4 years.  In that time, Baylor will continue to implement recommendations that arose from the investigation into how the schools screwed up the “football/sexual assault situation” so badly.
  • After 4 years, the conference will assess Baylor’s progress and if they determine then that the proper controls exist and that the proper checks and balances exist for the football team and the Athletic department, then the escrow account will be liquidated in the following way.
  • First, Baylor will reimburse the Big-12 Conference several million dollars for the legal costs that the conference incurred due to Baylor’s improprieties.  [Aside:  That seems like an awful lot of billable hours for an entity “twice-removed” from the football team that was the epicenter of the situation.  Whatever…]
  • Then, the Big-12 will take $2M out of the principal invested in the escrow account as a fine on Baylor University.
  • Baylor will then receive the remaining principal from the account – which is money they would have gotten earlier on as part of their conference membership.
  • All the interest/capital gains earned on the principal will be distributed equally to the conference member schools and the schools are supposed to use those funds to combat sexual assaults on their campuses.

Perhaps, that is the final chapter in the dystopian novel on Baylor football…?

Finally, here is a comment from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

“I’m not saying NBA coaches are totally unimportant, but Tyronn Lue won a championship and made it to four consecutive NBA Finals when LeBron James was on the roster. Without LeBron, Lue didn’t even make it through the first month of this season without getting fired.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



5 thoughts on “A CFL Team In Halifax?”

  1. The CFL in the Maritimes idea is intriguing and Halifax would be the place to put a team since it is really the only large-ish city in the area. I have relatives in Shediac (NB, self-proclaimed lobster capital of the world “cemented” by a large concrete lobster sculpture) who were big fans of Hamilton and the CFL was always on. It’s a couple of hours to there from Moncton depending upon the vigilance of the Mounties so the area could support a team on the CFL level. Travel expense for the teams would be the biggest issue I would think, since the Maritimes are an hour ahead of Montreal, the next closest CFL city.

    Quebec City is in Quebec, the land of the Acadians where “bilingual” is spoken and where the NHL Nordiques couldn’t hang on. I’m not sure how passionate the bulk of the population would be about what is likely viewed as an English game. My relatives did not think highly of the Acadians, not even my WW1 vet grandfather (who also was dragged back for WW2 but at least was posted to Bermuda) who was wounded in France but came back in one piece. Given what the Parti Quebecois has been saying over the years I suspect the feeling is mutual.

    Baylor football is a symptom of the accountability gap that exists for athletes and marquee programs. Frankly, Ken Starr should be asked about that moral failure every time he shows up on the TV on political issues, but I digress. We have seen this time and again for centuries now where a declared star player is given unlimited mulligans (i.e. Steve Howe) because the team needs him and the community needs the team to do well. However, if off-the-field conduct interferes with on-field availability (jail time can do that) it has to be addressed (sit him). What will be different now (and I suspect this is the reason the Baylor settlement is structured as it is) is the effect of #MeToo meaning the fan base will be less likely to spend money on a bad-behaving team. The “bad boy” shtick can be good marketing, but its window of effectiveness is small. Think of SNL which for many years after the early days (when it was fresh and funny) became predictable and recycling and known for letting jokes go 5 minutes too long.

    On the NBA: Anthony’s probably close to being finished, he’s not as good and not as healthy as he needs to be to play on a top level team (i.e. would the Dubs bring him in? Nope) and so would be a lower-tier stopgap slightly better than the NBA version of Jose Canseco. Also note that LeBron’s new team just got over 0.500 after a bad start where Luke Walton’s tenure is being questioned.

    On college football, perhaps it’s time for the hot-seat column. I offer Kim Helton who has lost two games at home (including on Saturday to the Cal Bears, heh heh) and the Trojans may not make it to a bowl game since they have UCLA and Notre Dame left on the schedule and both are fierce rivals to the currently 5-5 team. The Pac-12 (except one) would be very happy indeed to see this come to pass. WSU has Arizona and Washington at home, where they are solid and motivated to finish the job. One of the more useful observations about Notre Dame (assuming they make it past Syracuse in NYC, and I think they will but it will be close) is that they would have beaten USC in LA when WSU couldn’t and that would be the final deciding factor keeping WSU out of the CFP. I don’t think the Cougs or their fans really care about the CFP, they want the Rose Bowl.

    1. Rugger9:

      Maybe you are right; maybe Halifax can support a football franchise. Upon further review, New Orleans has a population of 393,000 and it supports the Saints very well. By the same token however, two other cities with populations very close to 400,000 are Tulsa, OK and Arlington, TX; neither of them would ever be considered suitable for an NFL franchise.

      I only mentioned Quebec City because it too is in the eastern part of Canada and with a population almost 40% greater than Halifax.

      I will be mentioning Bobby Petrino next week; his seat got hot enough to cook him and send him on his way.Just a guess, I think his next coaching stop is somewhere in the “Sun Belt Conference”.

      1. It probably will, given how many times he’s stepped over the line of decency but he really needs to be forcibly retired. Willie Taggart and Chip Kelly next year, I think since record-breaking bad performances aren’t ever good for the athletic department fundraising. Beyond that, Scott Frost might join them and whoever is at Rutgers.

  2. The Quebecois are not “Acadians.” Acadians are the descendants of French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region. The colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), as well as part of Quebec, and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. So while there are some Acadians in Quebec the vast majority of Quebecers are not Acadians.

    1. Lawrence Hutchinson:

      Welcome aboard.

      My knowledge of Acadians is not deep at all; it pretty much begins and ends with Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline. Thank you for your clarification here. I do recall from our visits to Nova Scotia that there were many references to Acadians who fled the area and wound up in the New Orleans region.

      So, what do you think about the viability of a CFL team in either Nova Scotia or Quebec City? I suspect that you have a lot more “local knowledge” than I on the matter…

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