Atlantic Schooners Growth Troubles

CFL football

Set to become the tenth team in the CFL, the Atlantic Schooners have been in the works since 2017. As the revival of a failed 1980s franchise, the Schooners hope to bring football to the Maritimes.

The region has seen significant support for a Canadian football team; however, recent and ongoing developments threaten to derail the Schooners’ plans once again. With COVID-19 causing financial and management issues, the Maritime team’s future is in jeopardy. If the Atlantic Schooners don’t resolve their troubles soon, the team may never take to the field.

Funding Drying up?

The biggest question that has to be asked around the Schooners: where’s the money coming from? Amidst the financial troubles of COVID-19, sports leagues and franchises are in financial danger. This includes the Schooners, who have recently asked the provincial government to cover the cost of a stadium.

The team already received funding of $20 million dollars to build the stadium; however, the team claimed that they were hoping the province would “partially cover the bond.” Former franchise founder Anthony LeBlanc made it clear that “a minimum two levels of government need to be involved” in the funding of the stadium.

However, now that funding is being diverted to supporting the Canadian economy, the Schooners may see their future plans evaporate in front of them.

Issues with Management

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the Atlantic Schooners’ troubles is the fact that the NHL hired one of their founding partners. Anthony LeBlanc, a founder of the SSE, left the organization to become President of Business Operations in late April.

With an uncertain future ahead, it makes sense that the Schooners management would be making efforts to secure their careers; however, this instability exposes key weaknesses in the Schooners organization. Although the SSE filled the position with Gary Drummond — another founding partner — the Schooners need clear and stable management if they ever want to become a team in the CFL.

But whatever LeBlanc’s intentions, the question must be asked — is he pursuing alternate options, or jumping ship on a failed venture? If it’s the latter, then the SSE should be worried. In order for the Schooners to have a future, they need to be able to convince investors, the government, and fans that they are a stable organization. LeBlanc’s departure massively damages that image.

Loss of Opportunities for Local Engagement

Forget stable management and finances — if there’s one thing the Schooners need to become a successful franchise, it’s support in their region. The CFL and the SSE have been excellent at creating excitement about the future Maritime franchise through organizing events in the Atlantic provinces. The Schooners have been a long time coming, and these various events have been instrumental in keeping anticipation and passion high.

However, recent developments in relation to COVID-19 have put a stop to these. Recently, commissioner Randy Ambrosie cancelled bis Maritime Town Hall, an event that has kept the Atlantic community engaged and excited. Additionally, with the season postponed until at least July, this year’s Touchdown Atlantic game is in danger of cancellation. With no ways to retain interest, the Atlantic Schooners will lose a lot of momentum in their journey to reality.

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