Best business, best fans

Best business, best fans

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight | Published: April 3, 2020

Halifax knows how to have fun, especially at HFX Wanderers FC soccer matches. The organization had a great first year as it introduced fans to the city’s new Canadian Premier League soccer team and received the award for New Business of the Year at the Halifax Business Awards. Corporate Partnership and Retail Director David Finlayson says the organization’s stellar first year and award win wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the fans supporting as they have with sold-out games full of energetic crowds and loud cheers.

“Our success has been fan-led — they pushed for the team to get here and their passion for the team is what drives this all forward,” he says.

Growing a league

Finlayson says winning the award was a big moment for the organization, as it recognized what it’s so far accomplished in Halifax. Among its biggest achievements to date is the amount of business it has brought to downtown Halifax on game days, when the more than 5,000 fans visited shops, restaurants and other businesses before and after attending one of the 17 matches it hosted.

“We’re successful, which means the businesses around us became more successful. Each game helped spike business development downtown and we expect to see even more of that this season,”
he says.

The organization finalized its game schedule and held a kick-off event to release its new jerseys in March. Its players arrived in Halifax on March 1 to immediately begin training in the two months before the season’s start. Finlayson says this is also when things hit the ground running and remain that way until October, when playoffs start. Finlayson says that the league currently has eight teams across Canada and that, as it grows, so too does Halifax’s level of compete.

“Last year we didn’t end up well in the stats, but we did well in our field set up and fan areas. We have the best fan base, the most excitement and the best events in the league,” he says. “The league’s momentum is really starting to ramp up. Our first home game is April 25 and we’re striving to sell out to 6,000 fans each game. I think we can definitely make that happen.”

The world stage

One thing fans can look forward to this year is some new faces that will grace the Halifax field as the organization continues adding top talent to their roster — something Finlayson says fan support, alongside local and league sponsorship partners, has ensured is possible.

He says this support has also allowed for additions to the stadium, which now features a new family seating section at its grounds, as well as a separate premium bar and cabana section.

As its stadium and wider profile grow, Finlayson says the team is bringing visibility to Halifax on both national and international scales, as its players travel across Canada and the league attracts worldwide attention. Finlayson says with the renowned soccer club Athletica Madrid buying into the league’s Ottawa team shows it’s on the radar of top clubs and that Halifax could soon garner more interest.

“We’re talked about in the conversations of people around the world who are looking for the sport’s next hot location,” he says. “We’ve also had people fly in from the [United Kingdom] to watch a game, so we’re looking forward to that happening more often.”

Finlayson says the league is looking to add more teams in Canada to in turn further grow opportunities for tourism and investment. He says these areas will also grow thanks to Canada being named host for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and that this announcement, combined with the Wanderers’ arrival in Halifax, has already contributed to a soccer registration increase in Nova Scotia.

“We want more kids playing the sport and know this will help build that number up. We want these kids to love soccer and for more people to check out the sport as we lay a foundation for all of our fans to have an amazing time at our games,” says Finlayson. ν

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight

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