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Walling: The latest from the East Coast

Alex J. Walling
12/7/2011 11:59:36 AM
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There's been a lot of news from Atlantic Canada this week - with most of it coming from Halifax involving plans for their new stadium, the Huskies parting way with a decorated coach and the new hockey superstar with the Mooseheads.

STADIUM DEBATE

First item - the stadium situation for Halifax.

Will Halifax get a stadium - something that has been talked about for at least 30 years? Back in 1981, the city applied for a CFL franchise under J.I. Albrecht. Remember the Atlantic Schooners?

They faded away quickly, as they didn't meet the deadline for a second payment that year. They had the $25,000 for the application fee before finding out that the stadium that had been promised by federal officials didn't materialize.

So some 30 years later, this city is still trying to land a facility that could - like Moncton - accommodate a CFL team.

Enter the 2015 FIFA Women's soccer event that will be held in Canada - and Halifax wants to be a host city.

But it doesn't have a stadium.

Now the Canadian Soccer Association is lining up matches all over the country. From Edmonton to Moncton and Toronto to Calgary, it seems everyone who has a stadium or facility will get in. They told Halifax around six months ago that if Halifax had a stadium proposal and was ready to build one, they would be given serious consideration to hosting a few games.

That was six months ago.

The deadline was this month and how are we doing in the quest for that ever-elusive stadium?

The city forked over some $300,000 for some studies on it and even had a committee to discuss the issue.

This committee then came back with references. And on Tuesday they decided to really do nothing but ask the Canadian Soccer Association for a six-month extension.

And there's no guarantee that they will get this extension. The Canadian Soccer group may want to give them this extension, but the decision may not ultimately be theirs. It may be FIFA's decision.

As far as getting a stadium goes, some on city council want it, while others don't. Some want it in one location, others want it somewhere else. Some don't want it at all.

So now after months of talking and surveys and even with spending hundreds of thousands in surveys and reports with a deadline this month as set by the Canadian soccer, there's still no decision.

Only in Halifax can you get this sort of activity (or inactivity). It makes you wonder how other Canadian cities ever got stadia; maybe they should send the formula here.

SMU COACH IS OUT

We also have a coach firing, with a big name university sports not returning.

Well, maybe firing isn't the right word. Maybe it's a de-hiring. Whatever the reason, successful football coach Steve Sumarah will not have his contract renewed with Saint Mary's.

Now it's very rare that a college coach is let go in these parts and I can't recall such a successful coach being dismissed.

The school says they want to go in 'another direction.' But one has to ask, in what direction do they want to go? Sumarah had won four AUS titles in the last five years and was named coach of the year on three occasions.

Now universities have the right to not renew contracts, but this quote from the daily paper is puzzling: "We want to get back to the tradition of excellence that we were used to."

Having seen this team from 1972 (when I took in my first Saint Mary's game) to the greatest era in SMU football from 1999-2004 (when they rattled off an historic six AUS titles in a row, took four of six Atlantic bowls and went to four Vanier Cups, including becoming the first team to go to three straight Vanier Cups), that one boggles me.

They were all done with Steve Sumarah who was basically the man in charge of the offense and second in command to head coach Blake Nill (now in Calgary).

It is the second time this year that athletic director Steve Sarty has raised eyebrows. The first was when he axed the women's hockey team - and had to overturn that decision.

I spoke to Steve Sarty and he told TSN.ca that, "there is not a personality conflict between Sumarah and me. We want to make a changer and will."

As for a successor to Sumarah? There are many coaches on staff who can fill the job, but at this stage I'm hearing of several plans to leave the program in protest to this decision. But no doubt there will be many who apply.

Stay tuned.

ON THE ICE

There's been plenty of reaction to Halifax Mooseheads star Nathan MacKinnon not getting an invitation to the World Junior camp in Calgary.

MacKinnon scored five goals last Saturday in Halifax's win over the always strong Quebec Remparts. He's already rated as a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, maybe even first overall. After all, the kid is the fifth-highest scorer in the league in just his first season and the next Moosehead skater is 21 points behind.

Finally, it's great to see the St John's Ice Caps doing well in their return to the American Hockey League.

For TSN.ca, I'm Alex J. Walling.

Alex J. Walling can be reached at: ajw@eastlink.ca.

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