Posts Tagged ‘Anthony LeBlanc’

Anthony LeBlanc has tempered his enthusiasm.

LeBlanc said Friday the expectation now is for the CFL’s Atlantic Schooners to be ready to play in 2021 in Moncton, N.B., while a new stadium is being built in Halifax. This past winter, LeBlanc contended if all went well, the expansion franchise could begin play in 2020.

“We want to get started as soon as possible but we have to be cognizant of the work that goes into this,” LeBlanc said in a telephone interview. “It’s not a surprise it’s taking longer than we expected . . . and we just need to be realistic.

“I don’t think it’s realistic at this point to even consider 2020. Look, nobody’s more frustrated with the timing than I am but the last thing we want to do is rush this. We’ve got to ensure we’re good partners and whatever we provide we want it to be fully baked and give us the best shot at this working.”

LeBlanc is co-founder of Schooners Sports and Entertainment (formerly Maritime Football Limited), which is the group looking to secure a CFL franchise for Halifax. Also on Friday, LeBlanc announced SSE has lowered ticket prices for the Aug. 25 Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton between the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts.

Admission now will be as low as $29. When the game was confirmed in March, tickets started at $65.

“Whenever it’s a single event versus season tickets or nine regular-season games, there’s always going to be some level of uptick,” LeBlanc said. “But I think we were way too aggressive when we first went out.

“Admittedly when the prices were suggested to me, my initial thought was, ‘Those seem high.’ It’s one of those cases that I wish I would’ve said something then but we still have two months to go so I think it’s fine.”

LeBlanc said early ticket sales were solid, especially with the higher-end ones, before fans in the region began voicing their concerns. The $29 tickets are in a general-admission area in one of the end zones at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium while those in the other end zone, also general admission, are $45.

“We started hearing from many people throughout the region that the ticket prices were just not accessible, in particular, for families and students,” he said. “So we decided to create a family zone so people could bring their kids.

“That allowed us to put together a much more fan-friendly price point. Then many key sponsors who we’re working with on this game put their hands up to help be a part of the ticketing package to kind of cushion the blow and it was their support that allowed us to come out and kind of re-launch.”

The cheapest grandstand ticket is $65. The stadium has 10,000 permanent seats and can be expanded to a capacity of 20,725.

The Ticketmaster seating map for the game Friday had large chunks of unsold seats on the sidelines.

Original ticket prices for the game — which will be the fourth CFL regular-season contest in Moncton — were significantly higher than what both the Argos ($21) and Alouettes ($26) have as their cheapest seats for their next home games.

Fans who purchased tickets at higher prices will be offered credit towards additional tickets, season tickets for the Atlantic Schooners inaugural season or a refund for the difference between the price points.

However, the biggest hurdle facing SSE is the construction of a suitable stadium for the CFL franchise.

The initial proposal called for a facility to be built at Shannon Park for between $170 and $190 million. In April, SSE unveiled a proposal for a scaled-back stadium that could be built for $130 million but expanded in the future.

SSE has signed a letter of intent with Canada Lands Company, the federal Crown corporation that owns Shannon Park.

“We’re basically hunkered down with Canada Lands Company,” LeBlanc said. “What we’ve done jointly is hire two or three best-of-breed consultants to come in and assist us with the business plan that we’re putting together for HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality).

“Basically when we present this to Halifax, it will have independent third-party analysis of what that site can support along with other things like traffic studies and environmental studies. We still feel confident we’ll be able to present and have Halifax senior staff review and hopefully get a recommendation to council by the end of the calendar year.”

The optimism surrounding yet another attempt at CFL expansion to Atlantic Canada has been extremely cautious. Besides, many have said they’ve been here before only to have the conversation fall flat.

But since Anthony Leblanc and his business team, Maritime Football, made serious their intention to bring a team to Nova Scotia during Grey Cup week last November, it’s felt different.

Even CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has fanned the football expansion flames, saying “it’s the unfulfilled part of our national dream to have the Maritimes have a football team,” and that it would be a “defining moment” to have a team in the Maritimes.

They’ve all been saying the right things.

Now though, the dream of having a 10th CFL team has reached a pivotal point in the process, one Leblanc says will determine whether or not this will actually happen.

On Tuesday, Halifax regional council approved a motion to begin discussions with Leblanc’s group and the province about the viability of a team and a stadium.

“I think everybody should continue to have the optimism we’ve had all along,” Leblanc told CBC Sports ahead of the vote. “We wouldn’t be getting into a phase of public discussion if we felt we didn’t have good chances of making this happen.”

Leblanc said his team has had a number of conversations with elected officials over the last number of weeks and believes there’s enough support to continue this venture and feels comfortable they’ll be able to move forward.

He said his hope is that administration moves quickly while looking over their proposal to bring a team to Halifax.

“People will say you can’t put deadlines on this, but candidly, we can because we’re the group that’s planning to do this and if we don’t feel we’re moving the ball down the field, we need to look at what our next steps are.”

The deadline Leblanc has suggested is four to six weeks — they want this done by Labour Day. The reason? If they’re able to move forward with the project ahead of Labour Day, they want to start a season-ticket drive for football fans in the region to support a team.

It would be right around this same time — if everything goes as planned — that Leblanc also hopes to have the CFL award Maritime Football a conditional franchise.

But what about the stadium?

Leblanc knows building a stadium and its location are the most important parts of this expansion puzzle. Last week it was reported Maritime Football had narrowed the choice down to two spots. However, that’s since changed.

“That’s speculation,” Leblanc said. “We haven’t publicly confirmed which sites we’re looking at.”

Those two reported sites were Dartmouth Crossing and a property behind the Kent store in Bayers Lake business park. Leblanc says they’ve brought in a new group to help them look more closely at a number of different spots that would be best suited for a multi-purpose development.

“They’ve been working with us for the last several months and I think it’s fair to say we’re somewhat back to the drawing board because they want to understand all the sites.”

Leblanc said they’ve looked at seven locations a stadium could be built.

“What we’re doing over the next two weeks is reaffirming the sites we’ve narrowed down are the right sites. We’re being incredibly thoughtful on this.”

He added the only way they’ll be able to make a stadium situation work is that if it includes the multi-purpose model.

Premier says taxpayers won’t pay for stadium

Last week Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made it clear taxpayers won’t be on the hook for a CFL stadium in Halifax.

“General revenue is not part of our conversation. I’m not reaching into general revenue to build a football stadium,” he told CBC News.

McNeil said he will wait for the formal ask to discuss how the government might contribute to the stadium, but was clear it wouldn’t come from general revenue.

“If you have another option, you have a new idea of how I can help, feel free to come and ask,” he said. “But don’t come in and expect I’m going to write you a cheque.”

Leblanc says that was never their expectation and interprets the premier’s message this way.

“What he means by that, from what we’ve been told, is they don’t want to see provincial dollars that have already been designated being utilized. We’ve never contemplated that,” Leblanc said.

Leblanc feels new money can be generated from the project and can be put toward building a new stadium.

“We understand as the private sector we have to participate this in a very healthy manner,” Leblanc said.

 

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Phoenix Coyotes

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Arizona Coyotes have selected a site for their new arena but aren’t ready to announce its location.

Speaking before the NHL draft on Friday, Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said the team has a deal in place, but attorneys are still working out the details.

LeBlanc said the arena will likely be financed with public and private funds, but the team will cover more than 50 percent. The Coyotes have a one-year lease to play at Gila River Arena in Glendale next season, and the team is working with AEG, which operates the arena, to add a two-year extension before moving.

The Coyotes have looked at numerous sites for a new arena, including downtown Phoenix, near Arizona State’s campus in Tempe and Scottsdale

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The Arizona Coyotes‘ AHL affiliate has officially been named the Tucson Roadrunners, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc announced Saturday.

“We are very proud to name our AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners,” said LeBlanc. “The Tucson Roadrunners will build on the great traditions of hockey in Arizona dating back to 1967.

“Roadrunners was the overwhelming fan favorite during our ‘Name the Team’ contest, and we thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.”

The Roadrunners name dates back to 1967, when the Phoenix Roadrunners of the Western Hockey League (WHL) became Arizona’s first professional sports team. The WHL disbanded in 1974, and the Roadrunners became a part of the World Hockey Association (WHA), and subsequently the Pacific Hockey League (PHL), until 1979.

A decade later, the Roadrunners were back as part of the International Hockey League (IHL) and remained until 1997. The Roadrunners then returned to Phoenix in 2005 as a member of the ECHL until 2009.

The Tucson Roadrunners will begin the 2016-17 AHL season in October.

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The Arizona Coyotes could have their next general manager in place as soon as next week.

That’s the latest from club president Anthony Leblanc, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Saturday’s “Headlines” segment. There are two leading candidates, Friedman added.

“That leads to one of two names as the likely choice: Les Jackson, the current director of scouting in Dallas, or John Chayka, who’s already the Coyotes’ current assistant general manager,” Friedman said. “I think it would be a surprise if it came this quick if it was anyone but those two.

“We’re also expecting a higher position for Dave Tippett in addition to coach.”

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With Arizona native Auston Matthews widely expected to be the first overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, many have speculated his hometown Coyotes would deal All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in order to bring the American home.

But when asked about the speculation Saturday, team executives were quick to shut that notion down.

“That will never happen,” Maloney said, per Coyotes senior director of news content Dave Vest, adding that the team’s most pressing need this offseason is “another impact defenseman.” Ekman-Larsson was drafted sixth overall by Maloney in 2009.

“We’re not trading Oliver for a draft pick,” echoed team president Anthony LeBlanc.

The Swedish blue-liner currently leads the Coyotes in points for a second consecutive season, recording 20 goals and 31 assists in 68 games entering Saturday.

With an exit from the city of Glendale looking more likely, Arizona Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc gave local fans reason for optimism that – if the team has to move – they’ve had discussions with many groups to at least keep the team in the area.

“I don’t think anything has progressed to a point where it would be prudent to state what options look like but things are moving pretty quickly; in particular with a couple of these options,” he said, according to Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports.

“The city of Phoenix has been the most vocal. They have an NBA franchise (the Phoenix Suns) that they are very tied to and they want to ensure there’s no hiccup in regards to that.”

The Coyotes have played at Glendale’s Gila River Arena (formerly Glendale Arena and Jobing.com Arena) since 2003, but the city voided a 15-year lease and management agreement in June, creating speculation that the troubled franchise could be on the move.

The Suns are seeking a new arena and the mayor of Phoenix has pushed to build a facility both teams could share. A Native American tribe expressed interest in building an arena in nearby Scottsdale, Pierre Lebrun of ESPN reported Tuesday.

The Coyotes are currently 26th in attendance, averaging 13,682 fans through four home games.