PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — HFX Wanderers FC executive Derek Martin is starting to see something special take hold in Halifax. In true Haligonian spirit, the city has embraced soccer – Canadian soccer – not for what it is, but for what it will soon be.
See, there’s a reason Halifax is the almost-unanimous away trip of choice among CPL players, coaches and staff. It’s the same reason that the team’s flag has become a symbol for a movement that has brought a professional sports team to the city for the first time, and the reason why the club’s newly-unveiled kits have already proved massively popular, and, as Martin revealed, the reason why ticket sales are through the roof.
“Halifax has a reputation –,” Martin begins, pausing for a moment before coyly adding: ” – It’s a party town.”
“There are great bars and restaurants, lots of students out and about on the weekends. And all of that is within a five-minute walk of our grounds,” he continued.
Indeed, Wanderers Grounds is located right in the heart of downtown Halifax, and the party’s just getting started as supporters begin organizing and rallying ahead of the team’s inaugural season. That central location is why Martin expects the HFX gameday experience to resonate further out than the confines of his team’s rafters.
“Halifax will live up to its reputation,” Martin told CanPL.ca. “We expect to see the entire city lit up and engaged during game days.
“That’s the secret sauce to making this work; it’s not just about 6,000 fans at the venue – when the entire city can feel when an event is happening, and knows that a game is on because of the noise and the energy, that’s when you really capture the hearts of the people.”
While Martin expects the entirety of Halifax to enjoy the Wanderers’ experience, the city isn’t exactly shying away from watching matches in-person, either.
Martin revealed the club is “going to get pretty close to sell outs” across the season, with less than 500 single tickets remaining for the club’s first home match against Forge FC on May 4.
There are also fewer than 500 season tickets up for grabs, too, and less than 1,000 single-match tickets remaining for matches throughout the rest of the season.
It means the Wanderers – who are currently in the Dominican Republic for pre-season training – head into their first season knowing that a strong base of some 5,000 fans will be in attendance week-in, week-out.
Martin also revealed the club will be holding onto a reserve of tickets for each tilt in anticipation of welcoming new fans who join their movement as the momentum builds throughout 2019.
As for that first game? Martin affirmed the expectation is that Wanderers Grounds will be “completely sold out.”
So, for those adventurous supporters looking to take in an away trip to Halifax and see the rest of this beautiful country, the advice here is to start booking early. Because, as Martin explains, Halifax isn’t holding back the love for HFX Wanderers FC.
“There’s really not a week that goes by where I’m out driving around or at an event or out with my kids on the weekend and we don’t run into somebody who’s wearing a t-shirt or a hat or a scarf,” Martin said, adding that he and his son have made a hobby of pointing out all the bumper stickers they spot of the club logo.
“When you see that stuff you envision in your own mind start to be adopted by the people, it’s a pretty rewarding feeling. It’s been an amazing thing to watch happen.”