Randy Ambrosie, the Canadian Football League’s commissioner, addresses the crowd at a public town hall meeting in Halifax on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. The league has been in talks with a group of prospective owners interested in a Halifax franchise. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Commish Randy Ambrosie: Still no definitive date on CFL Halifax expansion

WINNIPEG — Randy Ambrosie attended a historic CFL game in Winnipeg on Thursday and said he hopes football fans in Atlantic Canada will get to do the same thing one day.

The league commissioner touched on a range of topics with reporters before the game between the Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos, which was the earliest season-opener in CFL history — one day earlier than a June 15, 2004, match between Saskatchewan and Toronto.

“Tonight, it looks like we’re going to be in for a beautiful evening,” Ambrosie said. “And you think, ‘Well, wouldn’t it be great if we could play more and more of our games in conditions like this and give our fans a chance to come out, sit in the stands, enjoy some good food, some good music, some great football and, perhaps, a malted beverage or two.’ “

Aside from starting seasons earlier, Ambrosie also gave an update on the progress on an expansion team in Halifax but said there still is no definitive date for a yes-or-no decision.

“The conversations between ourselves and the Maritime Football group continue,” Ambrosie said. “We’re doing work on their business plan, giving them feedback.

“We’ve actually had them meet with several of the teams so they could get a broad array of perspectives. They came forward with their initial business plan, we had them meet with a group of our governors to give them some feedback. That process is underway.”

Members of Maritime Football Limited, made up of professional sports executives, are also meeting with local governments. The big issue is funding a 30,000-seat stadium in Halifax.

“It’s obvious that the region is seeing this as an opportunity, not just for Nova Scotia but for all of Atlantic Canada, so that’s been good,” Ambrosie said.

“All these steps are taking time, but so far everything’s been positive. But you have to do the work and the ultimate question is can they get a stadium project completed?”

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