Home MLS Toronto FC Leiweke: MLSE looking at costs, feasibility of allowing Argos to share BMO Field with TFC

Leiweke: MLSE looking at costs, feasibility of allowing Argos to share BMO Field with TFC

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On Thursday, Toronto FC announced that it would not ask season-seat holders for any money till January, so the club can be judged on its hiring of a new general manager to replace Kevin Payne, who was let go Wednesday.

That was the carrot.

And, in the same media conference call Thursday, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President Tim Leiweke said the team is in the preliminary stages of how to improve and better utilize BMO Field — a future which could include sharing the facility with CFL’s Argonauts.

That was the stick.

Leiweke said that MLSE execs had told him to “go look at” the feasibility of allowing the Argos to use BMO Field. Currently, there isn’t room to put a CFL field into the facility. Seats would have to be moved — a major renovation would need to be done.

But a major renovation is on the radar. Leiweke said MLSE staff have been touring MLS stadiums around the league to look at new turf and new structures.

He wouldn’t rule out BMO becoming a multipurpose stadium. And he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of BMO going back to an artificial surface.

“Everything is under consideration, nothing has been decided,” said Leiweke.

“We did football at Stubhub (Center) in L.A.,” said Leiweke. “We’ve done different games in L.A. We’ve had rugby on field at BMO.”

He also said that Houston’s new soccer stadium has hosted other events. He said that if the Argos and TFC were to both use BMO Field, the leagues would have to ensure that they wouldn’t play home dates the same weekends.

The key, said Leiweke, is ensuring that the seating configuration remains intimate for soccer, but can be widened to accommodate the CFL field. That means moveable seating banks, like the ones featured at Rogers Centre.

“From a cost standpoint, what does it mean?” Leiweke said.

But, if the costs aren’t prohibitive, then MLSE would entertain a new shared BMO Field. Leiweke said that MLS has changed, that the BMO Field of 2007 was fine, but with new stadiums in Houston and Kansas City leading the way, there’s a need to make Toronto’s stadium by the lake more state-of-the-art. Since a major renovation is coming, the CFL question is once again back in play.

And, while it wasn’t addressed in the conference, how long would such a renovation take? Entire banks of seats need to be rebuilt. If a roof, as Leiweke suggested, would be built, it’s not a quick process. Would TFC play in the Rogers Centre as an interim tenant?

BMO Field was built with the assistance of the three levels of government, and it’s designated purpose was to be a national soccer stadium. It was the crown jewel of Canada’s push to host the 2007 U-20 World Cup. It now has a grass surface.

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3 Comments

  1. Graham

    September 7, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Keep it grass! Keep it soccer! Let the Argos get their own stadium!

    Reply

  2. renzie

    September 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Sharing a stadium seems to be a cost effective good idea. Two games in a weekend will only be a problem if the stadium stays with a grass field. 300 pound lineman playing on a wet field in the fall would do huge damage to a grass field, which is the reason most CFL fields now have artificial turf. With the turf you can easily accommodate a CFL football game on Friday and a MLS game on Sunday as was the case last weekend in Vancouver.

    Reply

  3. Seathanaich

    September 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    The Toronto Soccer Stadium was done on the cheap in the first place. This made sense given that MLS was, in 2005, touch-and-go, and the project was a large risk. Today, it is clear that MLS is not only going to survive, but that it will grow exponentially.

    That being the case, some of the cheap early stadiums will need to be replaced sooner rather than later in order for their teams to survive against better-equipped rivals, and to compete against other pro sports in their cities. Columbus and Toronto are examples of places which will need huge upgrades to compete with the stadia in Kansas City and New Jersey, and the new standard that such places have set.

    Toronto’s facility has no overhead cover from rain, which is ridiculous. This needs to be rectified. Many of the current stadia are, as well, too small to hold the crowds which MLS will grow to over the next decade. Teams entering MLS now should be planning for the future crowds of 30K rather than the current crowds of 18K.

    If Toronto will need a rebuild – and I think it will – it makes sense to plan it for 30K, which would interest the Argos. I’m sure they’d prefer 25-30K at an intimate stadium than 20K at Skydome, which is a horrible facility to play soccer or football in.

    Natural turf, if properly managed, could stand up to a weekly diet of soccer and football.

    Reply

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