Here is another Alex J. Walling article. This article is from the July 9, 2007 edition of the Halifax Daily News and discusses how Halifax has no big-time sports going on during the summer months. Now 11 years later, not much has changed (of course next year with HFX Wanderers FC, things are about to change). Walling discussed how Halifax lacks a stadium (common theme of the past 40 years) and how the city would be an ideal market for minor league baseball. There are even a few quotes from Quebec Capitales owner & independent league czar Miles Wolff in this article.
Halifax is Dullsville in the summertime
ALEX J. WALLING
We are sports-facility challenged in the summer, big-time.
Let’s be brutally honest, frank and even blunt.
When it comes to sports facilities, Halifax, the so-called bright, shining and guiding light of Atlantic Canada, is a backwater.
Yes, Halifax, the industrial, economic and educational leader of this geographical region is at the bottom of an abyss when it comes to this topic.
From fall through spring, with the Mooseheads, and university football and basketball, this is a happening town.
In those months we rock. But when the Mooseheads pack it in, we fall, as that Bob Seger song, Like A Rock, states.
Summer is Dullsville when it comes to big-time sports in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Sorry, but I don’t consider senior soccer or senior baseball in the same category as the Canadian Football League or minor professional baseball.
We are homeless for either the CFL in the summer, or a minor pro league, be it basketball or baseball.
Yep, we have the condos, high rises, pollution, Tim Hortons, waterfront development, a long boardwalk, and a terrific cruise-ship business.
We are the cultural, educational, industrial kingpin of the region, and have more pubs per capita than most Canadian cities – but not a darn thing to entice major pro sports in the summertime.
Edmonton, Calgary, Quebec City, Moncton and St. John’s, N.L., have baseball parks that can accommodate roughly 5,000 fans, but not poor Halifax.
What’s wrong with us? How can we lead in so many areas, and be so devoid in recreation and sports facilities?
Where have the municipal and provincial governments been over the decades?
Forget the CFL for a moment, this area of nearly 400,000 strong could handle a semi- or minor-pro baseball team, just as Quebec City does.
Quebec, like Halifax, has a major-junior hockey team, and like Saint Mary’s, has a good football program in Laval, Que.
For the last nine years, the Quebec Capitales have been in the Can-Am baseball league. Miles Wolff is the man behind the team and says if Halifax only had a stadium, it would be an ideal candidate for a franchise.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ideal for the CFL, if we had a stadium. Now ideal for minor pro baseball – again, if we had a facility.
Quebec has a stadium built in 1938. The city pumped about $1 million into it a few years ago and it looks great.
Wolff, from North Carolina, was surprised to see Quebecers passionate about baseball.
“I didn’t realize this city had such a history of baseball,” he told me.
Halifax also has a great baseball history in the Halifax and Dartmouth league. Wolff says his team needs 3,000 fans per game to break even. His team averages around 3,800.
Is there any doubt Halifax could do better?
If the pro soccer Clippers could get crowds of 3,000 16 years ago, and the Windjammers up to 7,000, of course we could handle the demands of the Can-Am League.
The Can-Am League plays 94 games, so that’s a home schedule of 47, and they start on the Victoria Day weekend and go through September.
The team has a 22-man roster and there is a strong contingent of local players.
“We have six Quebecois on the team,” Wolff says.
Wouldn’t it have been nice to see the likes of Dartmouth Moosehead Dry standouts Darren Doucette and Joel Irvine on a Halifax professional team?
Irvine and Doucette will be playing at that refurbished Quebec City stadium as the national senior baseball title takes place in Quebec City in August.
So what does it take for Halifax to get out of its backwater mentality? A baseball stadium of 5,000 seats.
Why is that so hard?
This city has grown so much in the past 25 years. It is one of the most vibrant areas in North America – other than sports infrastructure.
Anyone who seen my recent post summarizing the results (including attendance) of the Nova Scotia Clippers in 1991, knows they never managed to reach 3000 in attendance even once. But it is interesting to know that Miles Wolff did look into Halifax for the Can-Am League, even saying that it would be an ideal location for a team. Of course the old “if only it had a stadium” is added on to the end of that thought. There is also a Globe & Mail article from June 8, 1999 entitled “Wolff feels like he has a fighting chance to win over the Plains of Abraham”. The article talks about how Wolff build the Capitales franchise from the ground up, preparing for opening day in 1999. The article mentioned how he visited Quebec & other cities on a ballpark scouting trip (I assume in 1997 or 1998). The other four cities mentioned are Bangor, Trois-Rivieres, Moncton & Halifax. Wolff would choose Quebec City to start his team. The Capitales franchise actually moved from Bangor, where it played in 1996 and 1997 as the Blue Ox. Trois-Rivieres would receive a Can-Am team (les Aigles) in 2012, where they are still a league member.
Walling makes a good point that if Halifax had such a facility more sporting events could come our way. Hopefully the new Wanderers Grounds could be the beginning of a sports renaissance in the region, or at least the city of Halifax. It is too late to see Irvine or Doucette to play for a professional Halifax team. But wouldn’t be great in the future to see locals suit up for a local professional club?