What would CFL at BMO Field mean for Toronto FC?

Al Dannity | Updated Sep 06, 2013

MLSE-Tim-leiweke

With news that MLSE is considering buying the Argos, Al Dannity examines what such a move would mean for BMO Field’s current residents.

Toronto FC fans are a tolerant bunch. They have yet to see the Reds field a team remotely capable of success, the worst start of any expansion franchise in North American sports, and yet still they turn out in big numbers for their team. Even the one trophy they could rely on winning annually, the Voyageurs Cup, no longer resides in Toronto. Their place atop the pile in Canadian soccer is gone. Now they have another thing to deal with. Their home might not just be their home for much longer.

Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), made it pretty clear that he wants to see football in BMO Field. “To me it’s not a debate of whether you do football or not,” he told the Canadian Press. “It’s a debate about if it’s the CFL, can you design the stadium so that it grows for the CFL and shrinks back down to its current intimacy for soccer?”

“We’re going to continue to look at it but the commitment we’re going to make is we will not ruin the intimacy of the viewing and the current set-up for MLS. And we will do it in a way where we’re not going to turn the field into dirt,” he said. “And whether or not we can do that, it means we’ve got to spend more money. To the credit of ownership, what they’ve told us is ‘Go look at it.’ They haven’t approved it, because we don’t know what it is yet. And so we’re still working on it.”

That’s a lot for Reds fans to digest. On the upside an improved BMO Field would certainly bode well for what the ownership wants to do going forward. A purchase of the Argos would turn MLSE’s dominance in the Toronto market into a position where only the Blue Jays are outside their control. Despite the CFL having only a minimal following in the USA, the combined entity would become stronger with their presence. For Toronto FC this could go a couple of ways. The nightmare situation is being the odd team out in the organisation but I don’t see that as MLSE’s end game. They see potential in Toronto, the most untapped sports mad market there is. They want to be kings across the board. The Reds will be fine. Let’s just hope their field is too.

SportsInteraction