Nova Scotia

Promoter sees pro soccer in Halifax as sport reaches 'tipping point'

A Halifax sports promoter says the time is right for the municipality to get its own pro soccer team.

'Soccer is really starting to grab a hold and become the new lead sport in Canada'

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, the Atomic Ant, is thrilling to watch on offence. A Halifax soccer promoter is hoping to capitalize on the team's growing popularity. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

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."

Derek Martin is trying to bring a pro soccer team to Halifax, building on the sports popularity in other Canadian cities. (CBC)

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.

A member of the Toronto FC supporters group Inebriatti sings during an MLS soccer game. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty)

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.

Seeking investors

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.

About the Author

After spending more than a decade as a reporter covering the Nova Scotia legislature, Amy Smith joined CBC News in 2009 as host for CBC Nova Scotia News as well as Atlantic Tonight at 11. She can be reached at amy.smith@cbc.ca or on Twitter @amysmithcbc

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