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HFX Wanderers working on plan for permanent stadium

Derek Martin said the team has already started having conversations with the municipal and provincial governments on potential funding
062619-wanderers grounds
Wanderers Grounds
HFX Wanderers would like to play in a permanent stadium in the not-too-distant future.

Home field for Halifax's Canadian Premier League team is currently a pop-up facility at the Wanderers Grounds, just north of the Halifax Public Gardens.

"It's the perfect location," the team's president and founder Derek Martin told CityNews Halifax earlier this month. "We definitely want that to be our long term home ... we think it fits with where Halifax is going."

"There's no better location I think anywhere in Canada for an outdoor sports venue than where the Wanderers Grounds is in downtown Halifax," he added. "It's close to the bars and restaurants, all the activities that you're going to do before and after the game, it's really ideal."

The current venue holds about 6,500 fans.

Martin said the team has already started having conversations with the municipal and provincial governments on potential funding for a permanent structure.

"We've done the best we can in terms of a pop-up stadium. We've got mobile bleachers that are set up there, we've got portapotties. It's really not ideal, but it's been what we needed to do just to prove that the concept works," he explained.

"We're not talking about $100-million, but we're talking about something that could be the right size for Halifax in that 8,000 to 10,000 seat range."

Martin said a permanent facility could also be used for outdoor music events throughout the summer, and possibly for rugby,

"We've had some conversations with Rugby Canada about making Halifax home to the women's national team," he stated.

And if it's up and running in time, Halifax might also be able to take advantage of the 2026 World Cup being co-hosted by Canada.

"In bringing countries that are participating in the World Cup to come to Halifax, for example, for a month leading into the World Cup to make our city their training centre," Martin said.

Sports economist and part-time Dalhousie University instructor Moshe Lander agrees the team needs permanent stadium, and he believes Wanderers Grounds is the perfect spot for it, but he doesn't think public funds should be involved.

He said the team plays in a part of the city that is already attractive for both residents and businesses, so adding a new facility wouldn't really result in a lot of additional economic benefit for the surrounding area.

"Even though the Wanderers have done an amazing job of building themselves into the fabric of the city, the problem is, it is a private business at the end of the day," he explained. "And when you're using public funds, it doesn't bring a benefit to the city or the province."

"Because the Wanderers are so ingrained in the city here, there should be a bunch of corporations that should be willing to help finance that stadium in exchange for advertising rights, or in exchange for some sort of publicity that's connected to it, that would deliver them some sort of return and justify their expenditure," he added.

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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