Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Halifax Approves Downtown Soccer Stadium for New Professional League Team

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Halifax Approves Downtown Soccer Stadium for New Professional League Team

Article excerpt

Halifax approves downtown soccer stadium

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Halifax is a step closer to capturing a coveted new FIFA-sanctioned professional soccer franchise after city councillors unanimously signed off on a pop-up stadium at a downtown municipal sports field Tuesday.

Sports Entertainment Atlantic pitched the temporary soccer facility in a bid to earn a team in the Canadian Premier League.

"We're that much closer to being awarded a franchise," Sports Entertainment Atlantic president Derek Martin said. "The league was waiting to see how things would work here for us in Halifax. We had a lot of the details worked out but we just had no where to play."

The team's home field would be at the Wanderers Grounds, a four-hectare natural turf sports field on the Halifax Commons.

The Halifax Football Club, a possible name for the team, would have a 7,000 seat stadium and host 10 regular season games during the league's first season in 2018.

Although councillors spoke in favour of bringing a professional soccer team to the city, some residents voiced concerns about the soccer stadium.

A group called the Friends of Halifax Common said the private, for-profit company would interfere with public access to the site.

Waye Mason, councillor for downtown Halifax, proposed several amendments to Tuesday's motion and clarified that Halifax retained ownership and control of the field.

"We are mitigating and minimizing the impact," he said, noting that the visual impact of the stands will be addressed through scale and appearance and will be removed at the end of the season, the number of events will be restricted and must be finished by 11 p.m., and that the site is promptly cleaned up after games.

"There will be an annual review and if there are problems, if there are drunken football hooligans running the streets of Summer street and Bell Road the deal is off," Mason told council. "But I don't think that is going to happen. …

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