Tag Archives: Rogers Centre

What Yesterday’s Announcement Means

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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!

A Brief History Lesson

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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
The Star
Rick Matsumoto
01/13/04

Stadium deal intrigues owner of Leafs, Raptors; But caution raised about tight finances U of T excited about improved facilities
The Star
Jim Byers and Rick Matsumoto
01/14/04

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

Star: Blue Jays confirm Rogers Centre to get grass…

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An article form the Toronto Star on September 20th, 2013.

The Toronto Argos have signed a deal to stay at Rogers Centre until the end of 2017 season but must leave after that, clearing the way for the Blue Jays to get a grass field.
 
“The parties involved have agreed that no licence renewal past that date is contemplated,” the CFL club said in a statement released Friday.
 

Read the full article here

Globe: Jays turf Argos…

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Here’s an article from the Globe and Mail on September 9th, 2013.

A renewed lease for the Toronto Argonauts to play at Rogers Centre will effectively serve as notice to vacate, clearing the way for grass to be installed for baseball no later than 2018.
 
The Toronto Blue Jays have determined it is possible to grow and maintain a grass playing surface inside the facility by digging up the floor, adding a drainage system and topping it with about 30 centimetres of dirt.
 

The link to the full article is here