Pop-up stadium pitched for Halifax's Wanderers Grounds

Pop-up stadium pitched for Halifax's Wanderers Grounds

The Wanderers Grounds in downtown Halifax has a long history of hosting sporting events and a local company wants to continue that tradition by building a pop-up stadium on the site.

Sports and Entertainment Atlantic presented a proposal Thursday to put 5,000 to 7,000 temporary seats at the Wanderers Grounds — at the corner of Sackville and Summer streets — for a small stadium that can be set up and torn down easily.

"Let's put something up for a time period where we can truly test it and see how it works," said Derek Martin, president of Sports and Entertainment Atlantic, who pitched a three-year plan to the city's community planning and economic development committee.

"By two years of that three-year cycle, I think we'll have a great idea on whether or not that site works and is there a desire for something more permanent on that site."

The company did not ask for any money from the municipality.

Eyeing pro soccer team

Martin's company is trying to bring a pro soccer franchise to Halifax for the 2018 season, but there is currently no appropriate venue for the team to play their games.

Martin says a small pop-up stadium makes more sense than building a multimillion-dollar stadium with too many seats.

"We want to see what works and what doesn't work before there is a huge investment of taxpayer money needed," he said.

"It's a much safer and smarter way to go about it." 

Proposal getting some support

The Halifax-based company has some experience with the Wanderers Grounds. In 2015, the company was one of the organizers of an international rugby match between teams from Canada and Scotland. The event was scheduled to take place at the Wanderers Grounds — located next to the Public Gardens — but had to be moved to a pitch in Spryfield because the turf was in poor shape.

The company's proposal is already receiving the support of some council members.

"The business case that was made is worthwhile to pursue," said deputy mayor Steve Craig, a member of the committee that heard Martin's pitch.

"The company would put up all of the required infrastructure, it would be temporary and it would still be used by residents at times when SEA would not be using it."

The next step for Sports and Entertainment Atlantic is to provide Halifax regional council with a letter asking them to take a closer look at the proposal at an upcoming meeting.

Earlier this year, the city put out a tender to improve the irrigation, turf and fencing at the Wanderers Grounds. The field is expected to close for much of the summer due to the upgrades.