February 23, 2018

Quote Board: 9 statements that stood out from Atlantic Town Hall

Mike Dembeck/CFL.ca

HALIFAX — CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie completed his cross-country trek of town halls with a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Friday and did so with no shortage of intrigue surrounding the CFL’s future in the Maritimes.

As was common place in all his other stops, Ambrosie touched on officiating, television ratings and in-stadium experience but the most significant story line surrounded that of a potential expansion into Halifax in the coming years.

After a 20-minute Q&A with emcee and TSN personality Paul Hollingsworth, Ambrosie was joined on stage by Anthony LeBlanc and Bruce Bowser who are part of the Maritime Football group charged with potentially providing ownership and securing a stadium build for a Halifax franchise.

Here are nine quotes from the over two-hour event that stood out:

A tenth CFL franchise is indeed a possibility

“In the future, we’ll get this tenth franchise. I believe in my heart it’s going to happen because we’ve got the right time and place and the right people. “

– Randy Ambrosie

Ambrosie believes Atlantic Canada as part of a complete CFL

“One of the things that I can say with great conviction, walking into this room with all of your enthusiasm is so fantastic but the enthusiasm for football here in the Maritimes, here in Atlantic Canada is not unique to this region. I’ve been in nine CFL cities and in every city, the number one question, the number one topic of discussion is, ‘when are we going to get a team in Halifax? And how quickly can we do it?’

You are part of the CFL. You have been and you will be and forever part of the CFL. Every time we talk about our league and every time we talk about our fans, the people of this great region will always be a part of the conversation. From this point going forward, road shows never happen with out a trip to Atlantic Canada to make sure that we’re connecting with all of you.”

– Randy Ambrosie

The CFL continues to explore potentially moving the season up

“What we’re talking about is advancing the Grey Cup from it’s traditional last weekend in November spot. And by the way, up until about 1960, the Grey Cup was actually played in December. The Grey Cup was actually moved forward into November so it’s not as though we had one date that was permanent for the 105 Grey Cups we’ve played, we have moved it before. What we’re talking about is potentially moving it up a number of weeks. And the range is anywhere between two or three (and) as much as four to five weeks. The goal would be to play more of our season in the better weather, Canadian spring and summer and beautiful autumn.”

– Randy Ambrosie


Teams could a themed game around ‘Diversity is Strength’ mantra

“We’re also going to do a Diversity is Strength program this year. Why? Because Canada is changing and we need to make sure that first generation families feel just as welcome in stadiums and part of our game. There’s some fantastic research that shows what the barriers are to fandom. One them is if you don’t know the rules. It’s hard to be a fan of a game if you don’t understand the game. We have to find way to reach into this generation of new Canadians and help them to understand our great game, make them feel welcome in the stadiums. We’re going to do a Diversity is Strength game this season in all of our stadiums to make sure that the inclusion and diversity that has been a part of what’s made the CFL so great. In the locker rooms over the course of our league’s history. Going to Bernie Custis and Chuck Ealey, who couldn’t get jobs in football, who came here and were stars. Chuck Ealey came and stayed and build a life and phenomenal success story as so many players have. We want to make sure that our stadiums represent that same quality. Everyone is welcome. There’s always room in our stadiums and our CFL tent for all Canadians to participate”

– Randy Ambrosie

Now is the right time to explore a potential Halifax expansion again

“I feel like this has been part of the conversation for a very long time. “When do we get a team in Atlantic Canada?” I feel like it is different this time. I really do. I just have a feeling that there is a momentum here. I think the CFL is in a different place. Again, I was saying this earlier, when have you seen the quality of ownership that we have across our league today? We have a much more stable and strong foundation of owners in which a new group would be welcomed.

I just think that the stars have aligned for us to take a crack at getting this in. I don’t think we have a completed CFL until we have this franchise in place. It’s like National Railroad, you just aren’t done until you’re done.”

– Randy Ambrosie

Potential ownership group has begun process of researching expansion

“We had been working, at that point, for four or five months (before the news broke). Several discussions here in Halifax with the regional municipality, the province, with local stakeholders. I think we’ve gone about this in a very thoughtful approach. We had already an opportunity to meet with Randy and his group a number of times. A lot of work had been done in the background.”

– Anthony LeBlanc

CFL, prospective owners will not rush through process just to achieve milestones

“The conversation we’ve have with Anthony and Bruce and Gary has been very specifically free of putting artificial timetables that will put unnecessary pressure on this. There’s enough pressure, I mean being in the room with all of you and the enthusiasm creates it’s own volume of pressure. We are going to be purposeful. That is the most important thing, that we are walking together every step along the way towards all of the things that need to be done so that when we reach milestone moments we can act quickly so that we can advance to the most important task in the process.”

– Randy Ambrosie


Halifax stadium would serve more than just football

“This will be more than a stadium. But within the stadium, that stadium will be more than just a football team. This will be about multiple events. This will be about a number of concerts, big and smaller, ameptheter style concerts. It’s about collegiate athletics. We have players from a number of universities. Bruce is a member of the SMU board. We were talking from the guys from DAU this morning. There’s a lot more than just the nine events but those nine events are the key to getting the stadium to fruition.”

– Bruce Bowser

The economic impact of a Halifax club would be significant

“There isn’t one specific model that makes the most sense here. What does make the most sense is ensure that we have a model that everybody is comfortable with. We’re having ongoing discussions with all levels of government and we will continue to do that and arrive at a spot that we’re comfortable with.

It’s about getting the right stakeholders together in a room to talk. I can tell you that we’ve had all of the right stakeholders in the room at one time or another and they continue to be in the room to have those discussions. I publicly say that this region deserves a world class stadium and a place that we can host world class events, world class concerts and a CFL team.”

– Anthony LeBlanc