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Mark Cohon said in his state-of-the-league address in November that he was looking to Moncton to host regular-season CFL games in 2010. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))

Moncton is in negotiations with the Canadian Football League to bring a regular season game to the city annually for the next five years.

The idea of bringing a CFL team to Moncton has been kicked around for years and that debate only intensified when the Université de Moncton announced plans to build a large, new stadium.

While locating a franchise in southeastern New Brunswick may still be a long way off, Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said hosting an annual CFL game could be a reality as early as next fall.

"I'm very pleased to see this coming forward and we anticipate a five-year agreement where we will have at least one regular season game right here in Moncton for each of the next five years," LeBlanc said.

"And it's a great opportunity for the city and an opportunity to assess the market and see whether we can move forward from there."

A spokesperson for Mark Cohon, the commissioner of the CFL, confirmed the two sides are trying to work out a deal.

The CFL is looking for government funding to help offset the cost of bringing the games to Moncton.

The idea of Moncton hosting an annual football game started gaining momentum last November when Cohon raised the idea during his annual state-of-the-league address in Montreal.

Cohon said in that speech that the main obstacle to Maritime expansion is the lack of a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 20,000.

However, Cohon said the CFL will look into staging 2010 regular-season games in Moncton at the university's new stadium that could see its seating expanded up to 20,000.

Game to attract fans across Maritimes

Mark Crandall, the chief executive officer of the Riverview Mustangs, which plays in the Maritime Football League, said the Moncton game will not just attract gridiron fans from New Brunswick but also from across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

"One game will be easily supported by greater Moncton and surrounding communities," he said.

"You've got Halifax that will definitely come up for a game. You've got the Fredericton area that'll come down for the game. But I mean greater Moncton alone, just a CFL game in Moncton alone, will be packed."