Aidan Reagh is a German-speaking American (kind of like John Brooks). He likes to write about the Bundesliga and all things football. Here, he takes a look at potential locations for Canadian Premier League clubs when the league has its pilot season in 2018.
The Canadian Premier League is set to kickoff as early as next season, despite only two locations so far confirmed as homes to future clubs of the league. That being said, it is safe to expect news relatively soon for another six to eight clubs.
Locations We Know
Hamilton has been confirmed as the flagship team of the CPL along with Winnipeg. Hamilton’s club will be under the ownership of Bob Young. If Bob Young’s name sounds familiar, it is because he also owns Hamilton’s CFL side “Hamilton Tiger-Cats”. The CPL side in Hamilton will be playing at Tim Hortons Field with a capacity of 24,000.
Winnipeg joins Hamilton as the second team in the league. The future club will be playing at Investors Group Field, which doubles as CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers home. The stadium has a larger capacity than Tim Hortons Field, coming in at 33,000.
The unofficial third team appears to be Halifax. The Halifax City Council signed the paperwork needed to turn the Wanderers Grounds into a pop-up stadium to allow play to happen in the inaugural season. This means capacity will be small (only 7,000) but will work as a short term solution while a stadium is being built. Renderings of the stadium show a largely open concept of the pop-up grounds featuring an open pub. Rumor has it the club will be operating as the Halifax Football Club.
The Remaining Markets
The Canadian Premier League has made it clear they will not compete with MLS markets. This may eliminate the three largest metropolitan areas in Canada – Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
The two already established sides on the watch list to join are NASL’s FC Edmonton and USL’s Ottawa Fury FC. Given the state of the NASL, it is unlikely FC Edmonton would be willing to leave for the Canadian Premier League. On the contrary, Ottawa is not very attached to the USL and would likely be much more willing to leave for the CPL. If either of these clubs join, they will bring an already established fan base into the league, which could be quite beneficial. Not only will they bring fans, they will bring soccer-ready stadiums.
Elsewhere, the largest metro without an MLS club is Calgary. The Alberta city could use a professional club and McMahon Stadium could be the venue. The stadium is currently owned by the University of Calgary, but USL side FC Cincinnati has shown that a team can achieve success using gridiron football university venues.
Stade Telus-Université Laval of Quebec City could also prove to be a perfect home for a new club. The stadium is currently owned by Université Laval and features two parts. The outdoor field will likely be the match venue with a capacity of only 12,500. However the indoor facility has multiple fields to train in year-round conditions and has just over 400 seats which could allow university students and club supporters to watch training sessions. This could create a very popular atmosphere to boost the Canadian Premier League.
If Toronto is a market that cannot be touched, maybe the Canadian Premier League could sneak into it indirectly. Mississauga is close enough to Toronto for potential supporters to come from the city, but far enough to not directly compete. It’s also a moderate drive from Hamilton – something that would create an incredibly passionate derby in the CPL. So far the lack of a stadium is a potential problem for Mississauga, but geographically this could be a golden market.
One other city that comes to mind as a potential market for a Canadian Premier League club is Regina, Saskatchewan. Regina is the smallest market of these potentials but has a venue in the Mosiac Stadium. The Mosiac Stadium is home to CFL franchise Sakatchewan Roughriders, but the stadium itself is owned by the City of Regina. Ownership for a club may come from the Roughriders, but fan owned clubs would be a popular feature in the CPL if allowed.
The nine cities identified here are Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary, Quebec City, Mississauga, and Regina. There are obviously plenty of other locations that could be declared home for the first set of Canadian Premier League clubs. Where would you like to see one?