Promoter sees pro soccer in Halifax as sport reaches 'tipping point'
'Soccer is really starting to grab a hold and become the new lead sport in Canada'
A Halifax sports promoter says the time is right for the municipality to get its own pro soccer team.
Derek Martin with Sports & Entertainment Atlantic said he met this week with an official with the new Canadian Premier League about the idea of bringing a franchise to Halifax.
He said they are hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of teams, such as the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC, which is taking its shot Saturday at the Major Soccer League championship.
"I think that there's a tipping point that's happening in Canada with soccer really taking off." Martin said in an interview Thursday.
"And with 60,000 people in Montreal, almost 40,000 people in Toronto going to those games, there's a really interesting movement happening where soccer is really starting to grab a hold and become the new lead sport in Canada."
As for where a Halifax team would play, Martin said the Wanderers Grounds Sportsfield on Sackville Street would be an ideal site. He envisions, at least in the beginning, a "pop up stadium" that could hold between 5,000 to 8,000 people per game, similar to the crowd size at Halifax Mooseheads hockey games at the Scotiabank Centre.
Martin pointed to the success of world beach volleyball tournaments held on the Halifax Waterfront.
A parking lot was temporarily filled with hundreds of tonnes of sand for that event, which drew thousands of fans and generated millions to the region.
He said they are looking to finance the soccer team through community investors and partners, and not government money. He said they have talked "generally" to Halifax about their ideas for a local team.
"The city's always open to new ventures that can bring in excitement and bring people and bring activity to the downtown core," Martin said.
"By no means are we far down the line yet, but I think there's an interest to see if this could work and be a part of the city."
Martin said they'd like to see the soccer games held between April and November so as not to conflict with the Mooseheads and the Q-League schedule.