Well we started this almost two years ago. We knew this day would probably come; you can’t fight billion dollar corporations or municipal governments who own the infrastructure. We all hoped that somehow we’d be victorious, that they would listen to us peons who spent our few dollars to enjoy the sport we, and rest of the world, hold so dearly to our hearts. Yesterday’s announcement was the breath that snuffed that candle.
A lot of people ask, why even fight to keep the Argos out of BMO field. There’s a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons that sums it up is respect. This was about respect to the sport of soccer, respect to fans who have helped build what Toronto FC is, respect to those who put down the flags of the countries they came from, and picked up the Maple Leaf for our national teams. It is also about respecting the players; people who have dedicated their lives to the game, only to be told that they don’t really matter when it comes to money. Can you imagine if Sebastian Giovinco, or Christine Sinclair slipped on torn up sod, injuring their knee and ultimately ending their career?!
BMO Field is a large reason Toronto FC was so successful. It was a dedicated facility to the sport of soccer. It was a good size for the average attendance, it was built with the purpose of growing the sport, and it was the outcome of the Argonauts franchise balking at the idea of a mixed use facility at York University. Do you think you would have supported this team if they played at a university football field, or in the cavernous Rogers Centre? They say they have it all figured out for the pitch to support both teams. The Desso Grassmaster system is one of the best in the world. Let’s hope they are right, because if they aren’t, this will be the end of soccer here in Toronto. That is a guarantee.
If the pitch begins to deteriorate, high caliber players will stop playing here. It will be the Beckham excuse all over. Players like Seba and Bradly don’t want to risk injury during their prime when they can still play in Europe. Without some of these names or talent, fan support will slowly drop off. With a constantly bad playing surface, the product on the field goes down, and more fan support will leave. If you can see even a trace of a giant “50” at centre, the most dedicated will even ask why they are spending their money on this. If MLSE is wrong, and the pitch does suffer, so will fans, and so will interest in soccer in Toronto.
So where do we go from here? We’re all angry right now; we want to point fingers and curse everyone involved. That isn’t going to change anything. The reality now is we have to swallow our medicine and believe everything is going to be alright. That doesn’t change why we go to BMO Field, the National Soccer Stadium. We go for the love of football. Real football, association football, the game where a ball is played with 22 men or women using – you know – their feet! Let’s not forget that. I hope this doesn’t mean the Canadian teams and the CSA have lost out on BMO field. The national teams stand to be the biggest victim with even fewer dates available to play there.
This Saturday, and every day after, let’s go and continue support Toronto FC and Team Canada. Let’s not forget why we go there and lose focus of our love for football; real football. Let’s hope we are wrong and this sport only gets stronger in Canada. I don’t think we’ve lost yet; we only lose when there is nothing left to support. Let’s go out there this Saturday and do what we love to do!