Halifax is about to lose a major athletic event, and a piece of its sporting culture, to Moncton.
A source close to the matter says Atlantic University Sport will hand Moncton the rights to host the 2011 Uteck Bowl Canadian Interuniversity Sport national football semifinal at the new $20-million stadium at the Universite de Moncton campus. It is not known if the deal extends beyond one game.
The AUS has called a news conference Wednesday morning in Moncton, which is gearing up for this weekend’s Touchdown Atlantic CFL game, to announce details "of an exciting sporting event coming to Moncton."
—Monty Mosher, The Chronicle-Herald
Unless anyone knows of any other exciting AUS sporting events coming to Moncton, this report seems pretty spot-on.
This new stadium is, of course, hosting a CFL game this weekend, and is at the very least a better venue for the semifinal bowl game (it has more seats, it's newer...). Coming at a time when "club football is booming in the Maritimes", and also right before SMU and
And whether adding the Uteck Bowl does anything for Moncton's chances of being the next CFL expansion team is a question best left to Mr. Bucholtz.
CBC followed up on the story this morning and spoke to the mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly, who is concerned about losing the culture and tradition (read: restaurant and hotel spending) associated with the Uteck Bowl. He wants "some further follow-up" done, which usually means city staff have to fabricate an analysis which "proves" Halifax is a better site for the game, but we'll leave municipal politics behind and talk about football.
Frankly, it can't hurt to move some AUS events out of the HRM for a change. Halifax seems like the centre of the Maritime universe sometimes, and part of the tradition of the game is that it's almost always held in Halifax—which, by the laws of physics, means it's almost never held in another city, and perhaps it's time for that to happen.
The men's basketball championship was in held Sydney last year, and while I don't personally know how successful it was, in theory that was a good decision. On the other hand, you could argue that until SMU starts losing AUS championships, or expansion teams in New Brunswick are successful, there isn't the appetite for CIS football in the rest of the Maritimes like there is for basketball in Cape Breton (and of course there's no CIS football team currently in Moncton).
The bottom line, though, is that moving the Uteck Bowl around can only help. Holding the 2011 game in a city with a brand-new stadium and other high-level interest in football is a no-brainer.
UPDATE (Sep. 22): It's official. The release doesn't say when the Uteck will come back to Halifax, if that's been decided yet, but Mosher says it's looking like 2017 and that he "better get to like Moncton in November."
Halifax mayor bemoans football loss [CBC]
Source: 2011 Uteck Bowl bound for Moncton [The Chronicle-Herald]