HALIFAX – Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been following a thread in the Halifax section of popular online forum Skyscraperpage where discussions over a new major stadium in Halifax have been gaining momentum. To give a little background, many Haligonian sports fans have been clamouring for a new major sports facility for years. Some argue the city should build a new Metro Centre with an arena that could hold substantially more than the 10,000 fans of the current Metro Centre, raising the city’s prospects for gaining an NHL franchise some time down the road.
For others, the story properly begins in 2006, with Prime Minister Harper announcing funding for a stadium in Moncton for the 2008 World Junior Athletics Championship. With sports money going elsewhere, the Harper Government’s move helped grease Halifax’s ill-fated bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games—which would likely have included plans for a new stadium—to be withdrawn following mounting criticism over budgeting in 2007. With the Commonwealth Games abandoned, hopes for building a football stadium that might later host the east coast’s first CFL team faded along with it.
Gone but not forgotten. With growing concern for the degradation done to the Halifax Common following summer super-concerts and the continuing inadequacy of other stadiums around the city to host sports like football, soccer and rugby, calls for a new outdoor stadium are again being heard. Here’s the letter written by the people over at Skyscraperpage setting out the benefits a new stadium would bring to Halifax:
There has been talk in the Halifax area of building a new Metro Centre II. We believe that a new football stadium is more important to the Halifax area than a new Metro Centre II arena. It will provide a facility that will allow Halifax to potentially join the CFL and would allow citizens and visitors to attend concerts in comfort. Down the road Halifax may need a larger, more modern Metro Centre to gain an NHL team, however, in the near future the NHL is likely not coming to Halifax, whereas the CFL has expressed interest in having a Halifax team in the CFL. Should Halifax be like Hamilton and build a large arena and then dream for 30 years of the NHL coming to town, or build a stadium and most likely obtain a CFL team? Just imagine the Grey Cup being held in Halifax. This is not a pipe dream, Halifax has proven that it can put on big events.
With a new stadium, the Halifax area will have two facilities for concerts. One for very large concerts (the new stadium) and another (the current Metro Centre arena) for medium size concerts. People will be able to go to a large concert and have adequate washroom facilities and places to sit. The new stadium will complement the current Metro Centre whereas a new Metro Centre II arena will simply make the old Metro Centre arena obsolete with little added benefit to the community.
The time has come to put the Commonwealth Games behind us and move on to newer and better things. A new stadium designed economically that could be used for multiple purposes would be a great benefit and source of civic pride to the people of the Halifax area and Nova Scotia. We need someone in the HRM city council to get the ball rolling on a new stadium. We, the silent majority, are sure it will be popular with most people in HRM other than the few vocal naysayers. What has happened to the great excitement that was generated by Halifax winning the Canada bid for the Commonwealth Games? It has again been replaced with a feeling of “we can’t do it”.
A lot of us want that Halifax moxy back. We were given a promise and sense of excitement that was not fulfilled. We want the rest of Canada to know that Halifax has not been neutered and still has an attitude of being able to get things done. We believe that Halifax can support the CFL and that the Halifax team will become one of the most successful franchises in the CFL which will greatly benefit not only Halifax and the Maritimes but the entire CFL. Where are the people in the city council who supported the Commonwealth Games? You gave us a dream and replaced it with a sense of hopelessness in obtaining a stadium and obtaining part of the Canadian dream; a Grey Cup winning team.
We feel that the best option for Halifax would be a fiscally responsible stadium that fits the Halifax climate. Design it so that most of the permanent seats are covered (what’s the point of a roof that covers only half of the permanent seats?). We all know that there are going to be many concerts and sports events that are rain-drenched affairs. So build a section of 15,000 entirely covered seats with all the washroom facilities with room for another 30,000 temporary seats (to be added as required). Then once the stadium shows its worth, it can be expanded with more permanent seats. Moncton has lead the way with their new stadium and now it is Halifax’s turn to go a step further.
With over 800 people having already signed their petition for building a new 30,000 seat stadium, the idea continues to pick up steam. So let’s say Halifax did get a new stadium of this size, where would it go? Exhibition Park, Dartmouth Crossing or potentially even concentrating all those parking lots and big box stores at Windsor and Young Streets on the peninsula and using the stadium as the driving force to urbanize the area into a more pedestrian-scaled environment. This could help to avoid building swaths of parking lots out somewhere in the suburbs that will sit empty for most of the time, since there are currently plenty of businesses on the Windsor-Young stretch that could make use of parking during the day.