So where did this all start? in 2004, before Toronto FC was even a thought, the Toronto Argonauts were looking for a new home and a move away from Rogers Centre, then still called the SkyDome. They wanted a smaller more intimate venue for Canadian football.
Around the same time, Canada was bidding on the FIFA youth championship. The bid was dependent on a new stadium for soccer in Canada.
The idea to build a new stadium started to materialize. There were many locations considered but a new multi-use stadium at York University became the clear favourite. The stadium was to be partially funded by the Municipal and Provincial governments with the remainder and overages to be paid by the Argos.
Even MLSE was looking to invest; whether it was to purchase a stake in the Argos or to invest in the stadium.
As everything was starting to come together, the Toronto Argos did a one-eighty and signed a new long term agreement with the Rogers Centre for favourable financial terms. This ended the dream of a new stadium and possibly dashed the hopes of hosting the FIFA Youth Championship. The Argos vacated their quest for a new stadium.
Shortly after this, MLSE announced they acquired an MLS expansion team and working with the City of Toronto would build a soccer specific stadium at The Exhibition Grounds. This new stadium would be the home for Toronto FC and Canada’s National Soccer teams.
Nine years later the Argos are looking for a new home, and our game day experience is at jeopardy. They had an opportunity and funding for a new stadium, and they passed on it.
BMO Field, the National Soccer Stadium, was one of the first soccer specific stadiums in MLS. There were no yard lines on the field. The north and south stands are close to the field, giving it an intimate feel. We even eventually lost the plastic in favour of real grass.
The Toronto Argos had their chance. They decided to take the easy money in the short term. Why should we lose what we love, because of their bad decision almost a decade ago?
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the original links to the news articles. However the Voyageurs site did have some of the original articles. Credits and original dates are below.
Argos-Leafs talk stadium; Four GTA sites under consideration York University the leading candidate
Stadium deal intrigues owner of Leafs, Raptors; But caution raised about tight finances U of T excited about improved facilities
Jim Byers and Rick Matsumoto
Articles can be found at http://www.cansoc.org/showthread.php?21341-Argos-To-Begin-Building-Stadium-By-August
Additional Canadian Press article
I could not find the Author or original date.
Article can be found here http://www.cansoc.org/showthread.php?25621-Argos-pull-out-of-stadium-officially