CFL eyes Halifax for exhibition

MONTY MOSHER -- Halifax Herald

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

The Canadian Football League is sizing up Huskies Stadium as a possible location for a pre-season game in 2005.

Two CFL officials toured the stadium on Wednesday to assess seating, parking, general infrastructure and overall accessibility for television.

The league, which is negotiating with Events Halifax, is anxious to place an exhibition game in the Maritimes next June.

Moncton is also actively seeking the game and has welcomed the CFL officials as well.

No date for the game has been selected. The league has also not announced which teams might play.

"They took a look and I can say they were duly impressed with our facilities," said Dr. David Murphy, Saint Mary's athletic director. "We went over the whole place. It was very positive."

Brent Scrimshaw, the league's senior vice-president of marketing and partnerships, and Michelle Marin, director of championships and events, were the two CFL officials in Halifax.

Murphy believes Saint Mary's would have the "inside track" on the game since Moncton has no stadium. The university spent more than $1 million to replace its artificial turf in the off-season, giving it the same playing surface used by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

As for seating, the CFL wants in the range of 12,000 seats available for the game. Murphy said that would not be too difficult for Saint Mary's since the university creates a seating capacity of close to 10,000 for national semifinal football games.

Murphy said it is far too soon to print tickets and that all negotiations are preliminary.

Murphy, a former quarterback at Saint Mary's, said he would welcome the game. He sees exhibition play as a possible precursor to a CFL franchise in Nova Scotia in the future.

"I would jump in with both feet," said Murphy, who has prodded Events Halifax to attempt to bring games to SMU in the past. "I would love to see this here. I think if we are going to bring a CFL team east, I think we have to start off with a few exhibition games to see how much interest is here."

Halifax and Quebec City have long been seen as the most likely destinations for an elusive 10th CFL franchise, which would allow the East and West conferences to be balanced.

However, Moncton politician Mike Murphy waded into the CFL debate last spring, boasting the New Brunswick city might be a better fit for the league than Halifax.


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