The Maritimes could support a Canadian Football League team and could see one take the field in the future, according to CFL commissioner Mark Cohon.
Cohon was in Moncton on Thursday to promote Touchdown Atlantic, a regular season game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 21.
Cohon challenged people at a Moncton news conference to help him bring a team to the Maritimes.
"There's always been a dream of people involved in the CFL to think about a 10th team and for that to work I think you need to get the entire community behind it, so that's just a little bit of challenge to get people thinking," he said.
Cohon said he isn't buying the argument the Maritime region does not have a strong enough business base to support a team of its own.
"I think that we could probably get a couple of the national sponsors of the CFL to back this," said Cohon.
"If you could unite the country through the CFL, if you could bring the Maritimes into the rest of Canada through the power of sport, I think it's a powerful tool for this region to create pride."
Cohon says groundwork needs to be laid
Cohon said bringing a CFL team to the Maritime region is still a long way off.
He wants leaders to begin looking at options for a stadium, including what it would cost to upgrade the Moncton stadium.
"We'd have to do an analysis of how much that would cost," he said.
"We have to look at is there potential of a stadium being built in Halifax, regardless of what city it's in I think the real question is how do you get people together to say that this is good for the maritimes."
In the past, Cohon has estimated the Moncton Stadium would likely need $100 million in upgrades to meet the league’s standards.
He said on Thursday a team would generate great excitement and momentum for the entire region whether it's in Moncton or Halifax.
"Imagine almost a million people every week watching your team on TV," he said.
Province to invest $100,000
Premier David Alward said the provincial government will invest $100,000 in the Touchdown Atlantic game for marketing with the City of Moncton.
Alward said it is an investment that makes sense for taxpayers.
"The last time the CFL was in Moncton it generated some $6 million of economic benefits to the southeast part of New Brunswick," he said on Thursday.
"The province of New Brunswick will gain more than the dollars we contribute back just in the taxes from this event so it's a great event, it brings excellence to Atlantic Canada."
Moncton is investing $180,000 in the game.
Jacques Dubé, Moncton's city manager, said $150,000 will cover the costs of bringing the two teams to Moncton, $25,000 for protecting the track at the stadium and $5,000 putting up the extra stands.