BMO Field Nearly Upstages Team
Toronto FC got its season off on the right foot, with big buck signing Jermain Defoe launching his MLS career in style with two goals in a win over Seattle. But news about BMO Field almost stole the headline.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke confirmed that MLSE is going to spend $120M on upgrades to BMO Field, which has been approved by the Exhibition Place board of governors, the Toronto Sun reports. Municipal, provincial, and federal governments are kicking in $10M each, but that will be paid back. The CFL’s Argos would conceivably move in there once their lease expires at the Rogers Centre in 2017, and MLSE is pitching to host the 2018 Winter Classic there—part of a festival to help celebrate the Leafs’ 100th anniversary. BMO would seat 30,000 for soccer and 25,000 for football, with room to add another 10,000 seats. (Submit your conspiracy theories about what happened to those 5,000 missing soccer fans.) The renovation will be completed in May 2016.
The BMO expansion is going to be a real boon for the community, First Capital Realty president Dori Segal tells us. LV-based First Capital owns, develops, and manages urban retail-centred properties and was outspoken in its opposition to a planned casino for CNE grounds last fall. In the end, Dori says it spent “north of a million” over three months mounting an attack on the casino, bringing economists, lobbyists, legal folks, and professional planners on board. “We are business people,” he says. “We would have supported it if we thought it was good.”
While concrete research is still forthcoming, his gut tells him that anything that has a “clean, healthy sporting connotation to it” wouldn’t be bad for the neighbourhood. As Dori (snapped above with Rose Corp's Sam Reisman) points out, people who go to TFC games would stop by the many restaurants and pubs popping up in Liberty Village (like the just-announced B.C.-based Joey Restaurant Group, a pub-style restaurant, taking the old Origin restaurant space at the corner of Hanna Avenue and East Liberty).