In a bit of a surprise because everyone in local government seemed to hate the idea, the Halifax regional council voted 10-7 yesterday to provide $20 million in public money toward a new CFL stadium in the city. There are a few caveats, though:
- Would-be Halifax Schooners owner Anthony LeBlanc (yes, that guy) wanted as much as $79 million, but is getting only a little more than a quarter of that.
- LeBlanc will have to agree to pay full property taxes on the stadium.
- The government won’t be on the hook for any construction loans or ongoing capital or maintenance costs.
This is not the worst deal in the world for the public, and certainly a lot better than what LeBlanc was proposing. On the other hand, $20 million is $20 million, and there are lots of other things that Halifax could be spending it on instead: One councillor who voted against the proposal said he’d rather see the money go toward a new police station, a new library, or traffic and transit improvements.
Of course, LeBlanc now still needs to raise the rest of the money for a $110 million stadium, and the CFL has to approve a new franchise, though the league did make appreciative noises following yesterday’s vote. Part of me kind of hopes this stadium does happen, if only to see if they really build something that looks anything like the surreal renderings.