The Atlantic Schooners

Graeme
By
Posted: September 4, 2016


The Atlantic Schooners was a proposed Canadian Football League (CFL) expansion team which was to start playing in 1984. The team, which was to be based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia failed to materialize however because of the team ownership’s inability to get funding for a stadium.

Eventually the league withdrew the team’s franchise application.

How did the Atlantic Schooners Begin?

In May, 1982, The CFL board of governors unanimously approved a conditional expansion franchise which was granted to the Maritime Professional Football Club. The group was head by former Montreal Alouettes general manager J. Albrecht and John Donaval, a truck executive from Mississauga, Ontario. Even before the franchise was officially awarded the duo was already on the prowl for a head coach, with John Huard, the Acadia Axemen Head coach at the forefront of potential candidates. Huard was appointed head coach the same day that the franchise was finalized. The team would be required to pay a $1.5 million expansion fee within one year and find a suitable stadium that could seat at least 30,000 spectators. The new team was projected to begin play in 1984 provided they met the CFL’s conditions. Robert Cameron, an industrialist from Nova Scotia bought a 50% stake on august 30, 1982, to join the owners group.

The group initiated a name-the-team contest in which fans were encouraged to send potential names for the team. The owners wanted the team to be a regional team which would represent the four Atlantic provinces, so it was important that the names reflected that. Some of the names that were floated include Atlantic Storm and Atlantic Windjammers. On November 3, 1982, Albrecht announced Atlantic Schooners as the winning selection, reflecting Dartmouth’s heritage as a sailing town. The Schooners would wear silver, white, nautical brass and maritime blue uniforms, with a stylized A in the shape of a schooner riding on four waves, each of which represented the four Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Islands and New Brunswick.

The Schooners planned an expansion draft to be held after the 1983 CFL season, with the team projecting to get a maximum of 38 players drawn from the existing nine member clubs to form a roster. Each team would contribute 4 players to the Schooners, using a formula developed by the CFL Governors, allowing each team to protect ten imports and 10 non-imports from their roster from the 1983 season.

The group initiated a name-the-team contest in which fans were encouraged to send potential names for the team. The owners wanted the team to be a regional team which would represent the four Atlantic provinces, so it was important that the names reflected that. Some of the names that were floated include Atlantic Storm and Atlantic Windjammers. On November 3, 1982, Albrecht announced Atlantic Schooners as the winning selection, reflecting Dartmouth’s heritage as a sailing town. The Schooners would wear silver, white, nautical brass and maritime blue uniforms, with a stylized A in the shape of a schooner riding on four waves, each of which represented the four Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Islands and New Brunswick.

The Schooners planned an expansion draft to be held after the 1983 CFL season, with the team projecting to get a maximum of 38 players drawn from the existing nine member clubs to form a roster. Each team would contribute 4 players to the schooners, using a formula developed by the CFL Governors, allowing each team to protect ten imports and 10 non-imports from their roster from the 1983 season.

What Happened to the Atlantic Schooners?

The schooners proposed to build a 34,000 capacity stadium on a leased parcel of land in the city of Dartmouth. The team’s home was projected to cost $6 million. The ownership group was however unable to meet the financial obligations for the new stadium, with both the federal and local governments refusing to contribute funds. Ultimately, the Schooners were unable to meet league’s deadline for the stadium and on June, 1983, the ownership group was compelled to withdraw their franchise application and refund season ticket purchases. Ultimately, the Schooners were unable to meet league’s deadline for the stadium and on June, 1983, the ownership group was compelled to withdraw their franchise application and refund season ticket purchases. The group had hoped to lodge another application in the near future but that dream never came to fruition. Talk of reviving the franchise has been rife in the recent past, with the CFL reportedly eager to expand to at least ten teams.

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