Now for a quasi off topic post. This past winter, Saint Mary’s University tore down the old Huskies Stadium grandstand and replaced the field’s old turf. They replaced the stands with some (alleged) temporary Home Depot style bleachers on the opposite side (Tower Road) of the field. Building a new structure to replace the old grandstand is an opportunity for the university to build something more permanent and useful than old Huskies Stadium ever was.
First things first, the CFL is not coming to town anytime soon. As much effort and support that Mayor Savage puts into the idea, there are too many NIMBYers out there that city council and the provincial government will never fund a 25000ish seat stadium anywhere in HRM. With the possible exception of an out-of-the-way location a la Shannon Park, but I don’t even see that happening. The inferiority complex shared by some residents doesn’t help the cause either. Getting back to Saint Mary’s. the university has an opportunity to build something special on the site of Huskies Stadium. Ideally SMU would build a 5000-6000 seat stadium with stands on both sides of the field. This is an ideal size for CIS football. The team currently isn’t drawing great; in 2013 the Huskies averaged 1891 per game. This put them third in the AUS behind St. FX (2675) and Acadia (1924). For the record, Mount Allision averaged 1324. A new (modern) stadium should help increase this number. Also, a better stadium would attract more recruits, with in turn would improve the Huskies won-loss record which in itself would attract more fans in the stands.
A 5000-6000 seater could also be used for other non-university events such as attracting a minor league soccer team to the city. A team in the North American Soccer League may be a stretch with a stadium of this size but a Premier Development League or United Soccer Leagues could thrive in such a facility. If nothing else, a 6000 seat Huskies Stadium would give local leagues (ie the Nova Scotia Senior Soccer League) and facility closer to downtown to play some key matches. Currently, the NSSSL plays most of their games out at the soccer facility in Clayton Park. Such a stadium would also be an ideal site for the Nova Scotia High School Football League championship game.
A 5000-6000 seater would also keep the end zones open. This would make it easier to temporary expand the facility to a capacity of 10000+ which would help attract additional events to the city, such as CFL exhibition games. The 2005 exhibition between the Argonauts and Tiger-Cats drew 11148 fans to Huskies Stadium, most of which were in temporary seating). A stadium of that size could also be part of a Canadian bid for a lower grade FIFA tournament such as the Under 17 or perhaps Under 20 World Cups. A 10000+ facility could even entice the Mooseheads to play an “Outdoor Classic” game in the QMJHL, especially if it was against the poor that would draw a poor crowd to the Scotiabank Centre (a team that draws crowds like Cape Breton or Moncton may not justify the expense of setting up an outdoor rink).
Anyway, if SMU were to build a new stadium and draw good football crowds then it could justify the expense of building a CFL stadium. It would also show Halifax could potentially support a franchise, should the league ever expand into the Maritimes. Staging preseason games would also show the CFL there is interest here.