Halifax CFL bid picks up steam as league announces game for Atlantic Canada

TORONTO — The Canadian Football League will stage a regular-season game in Atlantic Canada in 2019, continuing the drive to put a franchise in Halifax within a few years.

The 2019 schedule, unveiled on Thursday, will see the Toronto Argonauts face the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday, Aug. 25 in an undetermined location in Atlantic Canada.

The “Touchdown Atlantic” game will be presented by the owners of the proposed Halifax CFL franchise, the Atlantic Schooners.

Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE) says it will unveil the location for the game in the new year.

“We’re expecting it will illustrate to the CFL and the local powers-that-be that there’s very strong support for the CFL in the Atlantic provinces,” SSE founding partner Anthony LeBlanc said in an interview.

“It whets the appetite of the local football fans to go out and watch a regular-season game.”

LeBlanc said several potential sites are being considered, including venues in Moncton, N.B., Halifax and at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.

While some sites can hold up to 14,000 fans, LeBlanc said temporary seating could be used to expand some locations to accommodate up to 20,000.

“That’s really the challenge right now — figuring out which location has the best expandability and a community that can support this,” he said, adding that the CFL asked the Schooners organization about hosting the game only two weeks ago.

LeBlanc’s group will be responsible for sponsorships, ticket sales and supplying food, beverages and merchandise.

The Argos, who had the worst home attendance in the nine-team league this year, will serve as the home team and will give up a game at BMO Field.

“As the oldest professional sports team in North America and one of the most storied franchises in Canadian football, the Argos feel a special responsibility to grow our great game,” Argos president Bill Manning said in a statement.

“That’s why we agreed to move one home game out east, to contribute to the momentum behind the Schooners’ bid to make a CFL dream come true by making ours a coast-to-coast league.”

The CFL will return to Atlantic Canada for the first time since 2013 when the league staged the last of three regular-season games in Moncton.

The regular season kicks off June 13 when Hamilton plays host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer’s debut.

A Grey Cup rematch follows on June 15 when the reigning champion Calgary Stampeders entertain the Ottawa Redblacks. Later that night, new B.C. coach DeVone Claybrooks will guide the Lions for the first time against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

New Argos coach Corey Chamblin waits until June 22 for his first game after Toronto gets a bye in Week 1. The Argos play host to the Tiger-Cats in their season opener.

The league is holding 20 “Saturday Prime” games, all starting at 7 p.m. ET. “Friday Night Football” makes 24 appearances and there are Thursday night games the first 10 weeks of the season.

The traditional Labour Day weekend clashes also are on the schedule — Winnipeg at Saskatchewan on Sunday, Sept. 1 and then Toronto at Hamilton and Edmonton at Calgary on Monday, Sept. 2. The Argos-Ticats Labour Day game is the opening game of a doubleheader with a 1 p.m. ET start after the league drew criticism for having it start in the evening last year.

The Argos also will have a home game on the opening night of the Canadian National Exhibition, facing Edmonton on Aug. 16. Toronto’s largest crowd in 2018 came during their CNE game.

“As soon as the Grey Cup trophy is presented, we switch from football season to business season and the release of the schedule is a highlight,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.

The final 12 games of the season are all divisional contests.

The Grey Cup is Nov. 24 in Calgary.

Just Posted

Alberta budget Oct. 24: Premier says will have tough touches to fight deficit

EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says the Alberta budget is to be… Continue reading

Olive the owl joins wildlife centre

Owl rescued from Red Deer Golf course

Flurries possible for Red Deer on the weekend

Drastic change in weather is on the way

Updated: Red Deer RCMP make city’s biggest ever fentanyl bust

More than 3,500 fentanyl tablets and other drugs seized last month

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Police investigating homicide after woman found dead in residential building in Winnipeg

Winnipeg police say they are investigating a homicide after a woman was… Continue reading

Samsung’s folding phone hits the US

NEW YORK — Samsung’s folding phone is finally hitting the U.S. Samsung… Continue reading

Thomas Cook collapse means headaches for Transat as partnership deal dies

MONTREAL — Tour operator Transat Inc. says it could face fallout from… Continue reading

Mikkelson sees evidence of success in women’s hockey showcase in Toronto

TORONTO — Two-time Olympic gold medallist Meaghan Mikkelson woke up in her… Continue reading

Canada downs Mexico 109-53 in women’s basketball AmeriCup opener

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Jamie Scott had 21 points, including five… Continue reading

Pink and red combos, Hollywood gold on the Emmys carpet

NEW YORK — Julia Louis-Dreyfus stunned in classic Hollywood gold, Zendaya donned… Continue reading

‘Everest has not gone away:’ Sharon Wood tells story of historic summit in book

CANMORE, Alta. — More than three decades after becoming the first woman… Continue reading

Most Read