Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Turf war looming at BMO?
by Ridge Mahoney, August 26th, 2008 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS]Canada coach Dale Mitchell has added his voice to a growing chorus of those who don't like the artificial surface at BMO Field, and his isn't the only voice that's getting louder and louder. The issue is fast becoming a cause célèbre north of the border and might soon boil over to immerse Toronto FC, its operator-investor Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), the Canadian Soccer Association, the City of Toronto, and the local Canadian Football League team, the Argonauts.

TFC has parlayed the BMO FieldTurf into a homefield advantage this year yet TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston has suggested perhaps some of the money the team will receive from the Maurice Edu transfer to Glasgow Rangers should pay for a grass field.

Mitchell expressed his displeasure after Canada opened its semifinal World Cup qualifying schedule by tying Jamaica, 1-1, last week and is thankful the next two home qualifiers will be played in Montreal (Sept. 6 against Honduras) and Edmonton (Oct. 15 against Mexico). Both have grass surfaces.

"I'm pleased that we're not going to play on it again during this qualification round in 2008," said Mitchell to TEAM 1040 Sports Radio in Vancouver. "I hope we don't in 2009, I don't think it's a good surface."

MLSE runs the facility, but the City of Toronto owns it, and thus a tug-of-war seems inevitable. The Argonauts polled their season-ticket holders earlier this month about moving from Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) to BMO when their lease runs out, which horrified the loud and noisy TFC faithful.

There's some cause for the horror. BMO would need to be torn up and renovated, since a CFL field is 160 yards long, including two 25-yard end zones, and the Argos would want capacity increased to at least 25,000 and probably closer to 30,000. In this case, bigger won't be better, not for TFC and MLS.

Strictly regarding logistics, temporary bleachers could be wheeled in to fill up the vast end zones for soccer games and with all the madness TFC has generated in just a season and a half the increased capacity could be utilized to generate even more, and louder, craziness.

Yet TFC fans would have to watch their team play elsewhere for at least one season while their beloved home is ripped apart. End-zone season-ticket holders, and there are thousands of them, would be reseated in bleachers. Dreams of a grass field would die like a Bermuda lawn in a Toronto winter, and the CSA would still be stuck with an artificial surface its players hate in what it proclaims to be the national soccer stadium.

Provincial funding ("public money" in American political terms) helped pay for BMO and straightened out the finances sufficiently for MLSE to come on board in a whirlwind of meetings, handshakes, signed documents, and beaming bureaucrats. Along with that financing, however, came a mandate for an artificial surface to maximize use of the facility for as many events as possible. Such as CFL games? Mais non!

Mitchell has enough troubles regardless of where Canada plays its home games. Jamaica scored when keeper Pat Onstad batted a cross into his own net. History isn't on the Canadian side: it generated just one point, as in less than two, from a possible nine in its home semifinal qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, and didn't do that much better -- four points -- in the run-up to 2002.

But at least for this season, and probably longer if it doesn't advance, Canada is done with BMO Field. TFC and MLSE must deal with the subject of grass while placating city and provincial government officials, not to mention another local football team with some clout.

The Argonauts may simply be playing the BMO card to leverage better lease terms at Rogers Centre, but if that bluff is called, vitriolic political wrangling shall ensue. Regardless of the outcome, perhaps the most sublime setting in MLS may wait years or decades to add the lone missing element it needs.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Week 13: Results & Standings    
Saturday's MLS action featured a pair of hat tricks by Bradley Wright-Phillips (3-0 win for the ...
Messi Update: Argentine star moving uncomfortably but no broken bones    
Lionel Messi injured his back and ribs in a Copa Centenario warmup game for Argentina against ...
Copa Centenario: Castillo replaces Chandler on U.S. roster    
The USA has called in Edgar Castillo to replace Timmy Chandler on its roster for the ...
MLS Countdown: Kaka recalled by Brazil for Centenario    
The announcement came a day too late to benefit the Philadelphia Union, but Orlando City midfielder ...
U.S. Abroad: Gonzalez's Pachuca has edge in Liga MX final    
Omar Gonzalez, who was passed over for a spot on the U.S. Copa Centenario team, started ...
BeIN Sports adds special Copa Centenario coverage    
One vital aspect of soccer's increased television exposure is how events are treated by non-rights holders ...
USA-Bolivia: Will youth movement continue?    
Christian Pulisic has already impressed his coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, enough that he's in contention to start ...
What They're Saying: Jozy Altidore    
"When Haiti qualified, I just thought it'd be a cool thing, because they haven't qualified for ...
TV Report: Fox network twinbill draws 1,613,000 viewers    
Last Saturday's FA Cup-MLS doubleheader on Fox reached a combined 1,613,000 viewers. Manchester United's 2-1 overtime ...
Concacaf turns to NBA for new CEO    
In another step to rehabilitate itself after five years of scandal, Concacaf hired Philippe Moggio out ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives