Regina/Phoenix businessman Gary Drummond is one of the driving forces behind landing a CFL expansion franchise for Halifax and getting a stadium built in the Maritime city.
Drummond was the majority owner of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, buying the franchise in 2013 with IceArizona, until selling the team to Andrew Barroway last June.
Drummond joined 620 CKRM’s SportsCage on Tuesday to discuss the CFL project, and his partners Anthony Leblanc and Bruce Bowser.
“As you know Anthony Leblanc and I were partners with the Arizona Coyotes for four years and became quite good colleagues and friends,” Drummond Tuesday said from his home in Phoenix. “This was really his initiative and the third guy in our partnership, Bruce Bowser, had been organizing his own group. Anthony took it upon himself and approached Bruce, and we joined forces. When I was asked to be involved, it didn’t take me long to get excited about the project and working on it.”
If the group’s intention was to create a buzz, they certainly did that as the Halifax franchise is the #1 topic in the CFL at this point in the off-season. However Drummond said there’s still plenty of work ahead.
“There’s a logical order or progression and the first thing we need to do is secure a conditional franchise from the CFL, which would be conditional upon us being the catalyst for a new stadium in the Atlantic region,” Drummond advised. “We actually expect to have a proposal from the league in the next week or two. From our side, we’re hopeful that what the league comes up with is something we can accept and move onto the bigger challenge of putting a proposal to the three levels of government, the Province, the City and the Federal Government regarding the financing of a new stadium.”
From media reports tracking the situation, Anthony Leblanc has been doing most of the legwork by meeting with local politicians to gauge interest in financing a stadium.
“It’s gone very positively and it’s a very good climate at the City, the Province and I think at the Federal level as well,” Drummond continued. “The timing is very good but still, in all cases they want the private sector to be the driving force and we understand that. So far it’s been very positive but there’s lots of wood to chop yet.”
Drummond said despite selling the Coyotes, he’s attended all but two of their games this season and he’s eager to get back into pro sports at the ownership level.
“I had a great experience with the NHL and would’ve liked to stayed longer because the team is just starting to show the way the organization has developed the past couple of years,” Drummond explained. “I think the future of the team on the ice is pretty bright. That did whet my appetite for building an organization and the excitement that follows. I really enjoyed working with the hockey operations people and the corporate sponsors. I enjoyed it all. The CFL is different than the NHL but there are a lot of similarities too.”
So while it seems the Halifax franchise is moving forward at a snail’s pace, Drummond made it clear that there’s been lots of work going on behind the scenes. So far, it’s been an enjoyable ride.
“I’m having lots of fun with it!” Drummond laughed. “I want to mention too that the Riders’ Wayne Morsky has been very helpful and supportive and Ottawa’s John Ruddy has been very helpful as well. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, I can’t say enough good things about him. Even if we weren’t successful in getting the CFL franchise, I’d have nothing but positive things to say about the CFL. Likewise with the City of Halifax, from the Mayor on down and the Premier too, they’ve had open arms for us.
“If we do our job I think there’s a good possibility that we can get this thing going.”