Some Moncton councillors are questioning the wisdom of bringing more Canadian Football League matches to the city after two previous games ended up going over budget.
After a one-year hiatus in 2012, the CFL and Moncton renewed their partnership of holding an annual regular season game at the University of Moncton’s stadium.
But the $180,000 bill for bringing the Montreal Allouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats to Moncton for the Sept. 21 game is causing concern among some Moncton politicians.
Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said he’s worried about the estimated cost in light of the fact the two previous games have surpassed the budgets of $65,000 and $75,000.
"The council, the previous council adopted a motion that we would not invest again in the CFL events because for the first two events in 2010 and 2011 we ran significant over-expenditures between 200 and 300 per cent," he said.
Jacques Dubé, Moncton’s city manager, said the city will pay the football league $150,000, which 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.
Dubé said the city will be protected this time from cost overruns.
Coun. Paulette Theriault said she felt questions about cost overruns at these events were "almost misleading."
"We are not looking at the big picture on this," she said.
Theriault was among a group of councillors who argued that the $180,000 is a good investment for the city. It has been estimated that the CFL games can generate $4 million in revenue from television and other publicity and another $6 million in economic spinoffs.
Coun. Dawn Arnold said the $180,000 is a small investment to boost Moncton's reputation.
"In order to grow a vibrant and growing community that attracts people from around the world and from around the corner to live here, we have to invest in that. Events like this bring so much to our community," Arnold said.
Moncton sold out its first game in 2010 and sold 97 per cent of the roughly 20,000 tickets for its second event in 2011.
The CFL did not send two teams to Atlantic Canada in 2012 as the league was celebrating the 100th Grey Cup.
Mark Cohon, the CFL’s commissioner, recently raised the possibility of an expansion team in Eastern Canada. He specifically named Moncton, Halifax and Quebec City as possible markets.
But the CFL commissioner said the Moncton stadium would likely need $100 million in upgrades to meet the league’s standards.