Home Global Game CONCACAF If TFC chooses Rogers Centre for CCL, expect to see many more dome home games

If TFC chooses Rogers Centre for CCL, expect to see many more dome home games

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If Toronto FC decides to play its March 7 CONCACAF Champions League date against the Los Angeles Galaxy indoors at Rogers Centre rather than at BMO Field, it will likely mean many more games under the dome in the seasons to come.

On Friday, in the tail end of an MLSSoccer.com story (CLICK) on the change of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment ownership, Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi spoke about the decision on whether to change venues for the CCL or not. And his statement was more telling than anything uttered to this point  by anyone from the MLSE or TFC on this issue.

“Last year, we probably had $100,000 in frozen pipes and snow removal costs just for that first regular season game (March 26 against Portland),” Anselmi said. “The reason the decision is taking so long is figuring out long-term decisions. We’re going to play games in March forever, we know that.”

So, Anselmi has admitted that this decision will have long-term effects. “Long-term” is the key phrase in all of this.  If TFC doesn’t upgrade BMO Field for its March 7 CCL date against Los Angeles, it would likely mean it will commit to many more games at Rogers Centre for many winter games to come.

Tom Anselmi

Does this mean that, if TFC makes the playoffs, Rogers Centre would be the venue for November home games? Or early March home openers? Remember that MLS scheduling has changed radically over the past couple of seasons in order to try and accommodate more international dates. The season now starts in early March. In its opening season, TFC had its first home game in late April, albeit after an extended road trip. Still, for the Canadian climate, an early-March opening presents a different issue than an April opening day.

If we take Anselmi’s quote at face value, it is clear that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has one of two choices:

1. Play the game at Rogers Centre and not make the needed upgrades to BMO Field. If it goes down this route, we can expect to see cold-weather games move to Rogers Centre as a normal course of action.

2. Or, play the game at BMO Field, make the needed upgrades and take Rogers Centre out of the picture.

Judging by the thousands of empty seats (no-shows) for the 2010 MLS Cup at BMO Field, on a frosty, windy November night, the perception is that many casual fans won’t stomach the cold. That’s the perception, even though hardcore fans know there were many more issues at play, such as the decision to make the MLS Cup final a mandatory part of the season-ticket package rather than an option — which sparked anger amongst many of the paying customers.

No matter the choice, Anselmi has made it clear that the course that MLSE takes will have an affect not just on one CCL match, but for many seasons to come.  So, if you’re a fan hoping for a game at the Rogers Centre, understand that the commitment may be for many more Rogers Centre games to come. And, if you are a fan that loves the atmosphere and noise of BMO Field — and wants to see TFC playing out in the cold — this decision is vital.

The fact that Rogers owns the dome, and now owns 37.5 per cent of MLSE, means that rent might no longer be an issue for the Reds. And that could play a huge factor in the decision. Winter renovations for BMO Field, or the option to go to Rogers Centre with little financial risk?

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