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Sports promoter hoping to bring soccer team and stadium to Halifax

The Wanderers Grounds in Halifax.
The Wanderers Grounds in Halifax.

A Halifax sports promoter has a big idea for a small stadium – and a tenant to fill it.

Derek Martin, president of Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, said Thursday he was in talks this week with the people behind a proposed professional Canadian soccer league – the Canadian Premier League.

“It’s not officially launched yet, they’re just kind of doing their due diligence, and doing what they need to do to look at what cities might be in the mix and those that might not,” Martin said. “But I think Halifax is very appealing. For a league that aspires to be a national league, having teams from coast to coast is a very appealing thing.”

Derek Martin, president of Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, said Thursday he was in talks this week with the people behind a proposed professional Canadian soccer league – the Canadian Premier League.

“It’s not officially launched yet, they’re just kind of doing their due diligence, and doing what they need to do to look at what cities might be in the mix and those that might not,” Martin said. “But I think Halifax is very appealing. For a league that aspires to be a national league, having teams from coast to coast is a very appealing thing.”

But to host a team, Halifax would need a stadium. And Martin has a plan.

“With everything that’s going on in our downtown core … the missing piece is that outdoor sports and entertainment complex that we just don’t have,” he said.

“Wanderers Grounds to me is the perfect location in that it’s in the heart of downtown.”

Martin said SEA has a “pretty practical plan” looking at a “modular-type” temporary stadium with capacity for fewer than 10,000 people for the site – located between the Public Gardens and Citadel Hill.

“We’ve kind of found a creative way to come up with a venue, and to do something on a small scale that at least lets us test it out and try it and have some success,” he said.

The problem with previous attempts at bringing stadiums to Halifax, Martin said, is that they didn’t have a tenant lined up.

And they were too big.

“We sell tickets for a living, and it’s a bit of a pipe dream to think that Halifax, as a population of 400,000 people, could sustain a 25,000-seat stadium 10 times a year for the CFL,” he said.

“There’s no business plan for that, which is why it’s never happened.”

Martin describes his approach as “reasonable and responsible,” and says it doesn’t disqualify something bigger in the future.

The Canadian Premier League is still in very early stages, but the name was trademarked in Hamilton this September. 

In Halifax, an unofficial Halifax Wanderers soccer club support group has popped up in the form of a Twitter account. Whether the team name would match its proposed venue is unknown; the Twitter account refers to it as a placeholder.

A municipal spokesperson said Halifax has “had discussions with SEA with respect to possibilities for hosting major events, and addressed their questions in relation to facility features and capacities,” but hasn’t received any formal request to build on the Wanderers Grounds.

 

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