Atlantic Schooners

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Atlantic Schooners
Team logo
Founded 1982
Folded 1983
Based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Head coach John Huard
General manager J. I. Albrecht
Team president John Donoval
Owner(s) Maritime Professional Football Club Ltd. (Included John Donoval, J. I. Albrecht, and R. B. Cameron)[1][2]
League Canadian Football League
Colours Silver, Maritime Blue, Nautical Brass, and white[3][4]

The Atlantic Schooners were a conditional Canadian Football League (CFL) expansion team that was to begin play in 1984 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. However, team ownership could not secure funding for a stadium and the franchise application was withdrawn 13 months after it had been submitted.

The Atlantic Schooners name was revived in 2018 as the name of a proposed CFL expansion team in Halifax.

Franchise history

On May 13, 1982, Maritime Professional Football Club Ltd. was granted a conditional expansion franchise by the Canadian Football League's board of governors with unanimous approval.[5] The team was to pay a $1.5 million expansion fee by May 1, 1983 and could begin play in 1984 if a suitable 30,000 seat stadium were built in time for the league opener that year.[1] The ownership group was led by John Donoval, a Mississauga, Ontario truck executive, and J. I. Albrecht, former general manager of the Montreal Alouettes. Even before the franchise was officially awarded, Albrecht, who was working as a football consultant for Donoval, planned to hire Acadia Axemen head coach John Huard as the Schooners' first head coach.[6] As expected, Huard was named as head coach on the same day that the franchise was awarded.[7][8] Nova Scotia industrialist, Robert Burns Cameron joined the ownership group on August 30, 1982 and was reported to have invested over 50% into the group.[2]

On November 3, 1982, the team name Atlantic Schooners was officially announced by Albrecht at a press conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[9][10] It was selected based on a study followed by a name-the-team contest in which "schooner" was the winning selection.[11] Other names that were considered by Donoval were Atlantic Windjammers and Atlantic Storm.[6] The goal was to have a team that would represent each of the four Atlantic provinces and become a regional team.[6] The logo was a stylized "A" in the shape of a schooner that rode on four waves, each representing the four Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.[12] The team colours were silver, maritime blue, nautical brass, and white.[3]

An expansion draft was planned to be held following the 1983 CFL season where, initially, a maximum of 38 players from the existing nine member clubs would be used to form a roster.[5] The actual formula was approved on November 24, 1982 by the CFL governors. Each of the nine existing clubs would be able to protect 10 imports and 10 non-imports from their final rosters from the 1983 season. The Schooners would then select two imports and two non-imports from each team for a maximum of 36 players. Each team could only protect one quarterback and the Schooners could draft a maximum of two in total. The draft would have taken place in January 1984.[13]

The Schooners proposed home was a 34,000-seat stadium located on leased land in the city of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, said to be built at a cost of $6 million.[14][15] When the franchise was awarded, it was still being debated between the mayors of Halifax and Dartmouth where the new stadium should be built as both wanted the team in their respective cities.[9] However, neither the provincial or federal government were willing to contribute to the funding of the stadium. As described by senator Ray Perrault, minister of state for fitness and amateur sport, federal funds were only made available when a city was hosting an international event, such as the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games. The Premier of Nova Scotia, John Buchanan, also stated that no provincial funding would be made available in any circumstance.[16] The ownership group had purchased a scoreboard from the New England Patriots' Sullivan Stadium for use in their new stadium.[17]

Ultimately, the Schooners were unable to meet the deadlines set by the league, including the deadline for a financing plan for the new stadium. On June 16, 1983, Maritime Professional Football Club Ltd. withdrew their application for a franchise and refunded season ticket deposits.[18] The ownership group's withdrawal came one day before the league deadline because Donoval believed that a withdrawal rather than league rejection would make re-applying for a franchise easier. However, another franchise application never came to fruition.[19]

Attempted revival

In November 2017, the CFL conducted discussions with a group in Halifax interested in securing a franchise for the city;[20] the group made a "very credible" pitch to the CFL head office.[21] According to TSN analyst Dave Naylor the group consists of Anthony LeBlanc (former president and CEO of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes), Bruce Bowser (president of AMJ Campbell Van Lines) and Gary Drummond (former president of hockey operations for the Coyotes).[21] In June 2018, the ownership group, which was then named Maritime Football Ltd (now Schooners Sports and Entertainment), met with Premier of New Brunswick Brian Gallant and Moncton mayor Dawn Arnold, to discuss the possibility of a Halifax team playing some games in Moncton.[22] Later that month, the group met with the Halifax Regional Council in private about plans to bring a CFL team to Halifax, with the possibility of playing at Moncton University while a stadium in Halifax is being built.[23][24] The possible stadium locations were narrowed down to two sites, in Dartmouth Crossing and Bayers Lake Business Park.[25] It was then revealed that the Maritime Football Ltd. ownership group preferred the Shannon Park location in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to develop a new stadium.[26] The stadium would be estimated to cost between $170 to $190 million and would seat 24,000 and have a business model similar to the Ottawa Redblacks, who entered the league in 2014.[27] On October 30, 2018, Halifax City Council unanimously voted in favour of proceeding with a business case analysis of a stadium in the Halifax municipality.[28][29] Following this positive momentum, Maritime Football Ltd. and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced that the group would proceed with a season ticket drive to further gauge interest in addition running a team name contest in the hopes of making an announcement on the team name just prior to the 106th Grey Cup game.[30] The target year for the proposed team to enter the league would be 2021, with the team name including "Atlantic" in its name, but no franchise was actually awarded in this announcement.[31][32] Further to the previous discussions with Moncton and New Brunswick politicians, it was also suggested that the potential new franchise could begin play in Moncton while the stadium in Halifax is built.[32] On November 23, 2018, two days before the 106th Grey Cup, Maritime Football Ltd and commissioner Ambrosie announced the new team would be called the 'Atlantic Schooners'.[33] At that time the Maritime Football Ltd. partnership changed their name to Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE). By December 21, 2018 the SSE had sold over 6,000 season ticket deposits.[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Canadian League Expand". Associated Press. May 14, 1982. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Yanks' Owner Blasts Umpires". The Montreal Gazette. August 30, 1982. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Atlantic Schooners christened". The Globe and Mail. November 4, 1982.
  4. ^ Paul Palango (June 17, 1983). "Demise of the Schooners roils troubled CFL waters". The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ a b Ian Dutton (May 14, 1982). "Dream turns into reality for Maritime group". Leader Post. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Lyndon Little (May 13, 1982). "Maritimes' CFL bid heating up". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  7. ^ Jeff Adams (June 13, 1983). "Schooners Coach Waiting for a Decision". Canadian Press. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  8. ^ Lyndon Little (May 14, 1982). "CFL conditionally accepts Halifax". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  9. ^ a b E. Kaye Fulton (November 4, 1982). "Team has name but no stadium". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Canadian Press (November 4, 1982). "Atlantic team gets its name". Leader Post. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  11. ^ "Newest Canadian team given name 'Schooners'". Lawrence Journal-World. November 4, 1982. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  12. ^ Football fans remain loyal to Atlantic Schooners
  13. ^ "CFL franchise for Maritimes gets approval". The Globe and Mail. November 25, 1982. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  14. ^ "Schooners unveil plans for new football stadium". The Leader-Post. February 5, 1983. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  15. ^ Canada Press (April 21, 1983). "Dartmouth approves site for new football stadium". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  16. ^ Canada Press (November 5, 1982). "Ottawa takes wind from sails". Leader Post. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  17. ^ "CFL scuttles Schooners". Canadian Press. June 17, 1983. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  18. ^ "McEnroe hopes shoulder heals for Wimbledon". Lakeland Ledger. June 17, 1983. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  19. ^ Michael MacDonald (February 10, 2014). "CFL team for Halifax a good idea but still years away: commissioner". The Province. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  20. ^ "CFL confirms discussions have taken place regarding Halifax expansion -". November 16, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Group makes 'very credible' pitch for Halifax CFL franchise - Article - TSN". TSN. November 16, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  22. ^ "Group vying for Halifax CFL team meets with premier in Moncton during N.B. visit". Global News. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  23. ^ "Maritime Football Ltd. agree to process for securing Halifax franchise". TSN. June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "Halifax council gets CFL update behind closed doors". Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "Location down to two sites for Halifax CFL stadium". The Chronicle Herald. July 8, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "Group behind Halifax CFL expansion bid picks stadium site -". TSN. October 26, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  27. ^ "CFL expansion group proposes Halifax-area stadium at Shannon Park". Ottawa Sun. October 26, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  28. ^ "Game on: Halifax votes to advance negotiations on potential CFL stadium". Global News. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "Halifax council asks for detailed CFL stadium report". The Chronicle Herald. October 30, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  30. ^ "Maritime Football LTD. announces season ticket drive for potential team". November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  31. ^ Francis Campbell (October 31, 2018). "Some say Halifax should take a pass on Shannon Park CFL stadium". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  32. ^ a b "O'Leary: An exclusive Q&A with Maritime Football's Anthony LeBlanc". November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  33. ^ "Name Game: Potential tenth franchise to be named Atlantic Schooners -". November 23, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  34. ^ "Schooners have sold 6,000 season tickets". TSN. December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 21, 2018.

External links

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