Philip Croucher - Metro Halifax
© The Canadian Press
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon.
Mark Cohon says there is no better time than now to make the Canadian Football League truly coast-to-coast.
The CFL commissioner will be in Halifax on Monday to speak with business leaders and HRM Mayor Mike Savage about the league, and how to make a new outdoor stadium economically viable.
The CFL will never have a team in Halifax without at least a 20,000-seat stadium in place.
“The league has never been stronger. We can do this now,” Cohon said in reference to east-coast expansion. “Predecessors who had those conversations, it might have been a pipe dream because the league was never in the place to have these dialogues. Now we are and that’s why we are coming out.”
In speaking with Metro by phone on Thursday, Cohon notes today’s stadiums aren’t simply one-trick ponies.
He cites the new stadium built in Ottawa for the expansion Red Blacks as a prime example. Besides the stadium itself, he says the facility includes 350,000 square feet of retail space, condominiums, town houses and even parkland.
“They are building a city within a city,” he said.
Savage says he’d like to have a final decision on Halifax moving on a new stadium decided by the end of the year.
For that to happen, Cohon knows business leaders in Halifax need to open their pocket books as government won’t take it on alone.
In his sales pitch, Cohon talks regularly about the economic impact the stadium will bring, especially with the CFL as the main tenant.
And of course, one can’t forget about the pride factor.
“If you had a team in Halifax, almost one million people would be watching each and every game,” he said in reference to television coverage. “I think there’s a sense of pride (in that). I think there’s a sense that this can rally not just Halifax, but an entire region, around something that would be important to the community.”