The Yorkies' Regular Features

Starting 11       The Word       The Matchup       After 90       The South Stand Report

Friday, May 16, 2008


There has been much said recently about the proposed Argos move to BMO Field, but sometimes it is the things that are unsaid that prove to be the most curious. Many in the mainstream media will throw out the notion of the CFL moving into “The National Soccer Stadium” as a simple moving of house, west down Lakeshore Blvd. However, when you take the time to really break down the idea, you quickly come to realize there is a lot that has not been widely discussed, at least not in public. As any TFC supporter who has called the club’s head office for more information knows, a pretty tight corporate style script has emerged from Bay Street. I have no inside knowledge to claim that there is more to this than meets the eye but what does strike me as odd is the lack of apparent information or investigation into a project that is far bigger than is being let on. With that, the following talking points have come to mind. Many of these have already appeared on the numerous TFC forums, but maybe one or two of them will make you wonder if we are dealing with ignorance or something more sinister.

THE SIZE AND COST OF EXPANSION: The Argos claim to have an average attendance of over 30,000. The simple addition of a north stand would only add an approximate 4,000 to 5,000 seats to BMO. It seems strange that a team that depends on gate receipts so heavily would be happy to drop 5,000 seats. In order to get closer to 30K, an upper deck on the east side would be necessary, add to that an increase in wanted private boxes and other amenities to be discussed later and the budget has already skyrocketed. Now I am not any kind of architect, but anyone with common sense knows that this could not fall into the much heard $10-$20 Million Dollar price tag that’s being thrown around. It would surely be much higher.

EXPANSION LOCATION: The main fact of CFL-to-BMO expansion is the necessity to extend the stadium by CFL end zones to the north and the south. For arguments sake we will believe the movable stands malarkey being talked about for now. However, even if the stands are pulled right back for Argos games, you must still add the need for the concourses, the facilities such as washrooms and the entrance gates. I don’t have a long enough ruler but it sounds like the north end will be on the doorstep of the Food Building and the south end will be in the middle of Princes’ Blvd. This has yet to be explained satisfactorily to me and leaves me scratching my head. Of course this is based on the next mysterious promise…

THE MOVABLE STANDS: Forgive me for being a cynic but this sounds like one of those plans that get scrapped late in construction due to “budget restrictions”. Movable seats on a mechanized track system is no small project. There are issues with this that I see as problematic. If the stands are only there for the MLS set-up then will they simply collapse into a flat wall during the CFL? If that were the case the Argos would only have about a 16K attendance so that is unlikely. The idea would be non-folding stands, north and south but that only makes further problems. Take the TFC pitch as it is right now; add a CFL end zone on either side and then concourses and gates behind that. If you have been to BMO you can imagine this would put the north end well on it’s way to catching a GO Train. The only way to accommodate concourses would be to build them within the stands. Stands can be moved on a track – concourses, washrooms and food stands cannot. What does that mean to this untrained eye? The stands would have to be permanent and TFC fans would have an end zone between them and the goals. Impossible you say? I hope for our sake you are right.

THE ARGOS LEASE AT ROGERS CENTRE: This point has never made a lot of sense to me. Why would a seemingly cash-strapped franchise like the Argos move away from the Artist formerly known as SkyDome where it has its facilities in place and pays absolutely no rent? It is true that they don’t receive a penny in stadium revenue but what makes you think that BMO’s landlords “The Mighty MLSE” will give them a better deal. If there is one thing Torontonians know about MLSE is that they enjoy their money and are not too big on sharing. In essence the Argos would be moving from one landlord who charges them no rent to one who would and they still would not share revenue. Meanwhile, it would be surprising if Uncle Ted’s Removable Roof Ballpark would want to lose the Argos and their 15 or so home dates. Yes they are aiming for the NFL but that is a while away and that white elephant still needs tenants. The optimist in me has always hoped this whole rumour was an Argos’ shakedown for a better deal at Rogers Centre.

WHO’S GONNA PAY? Lots of people have been talking about this dreaded expansion but no one has opened their chequebook yet. Let’s look at the players. The City Of Toronto owns BMO. They have no money. Period. They can’t keep kids’ skating rinks and pools open. They can’t fund transit. We have a homeless crisis. Do we really think Mayor Miller and his councilors will vote yes to pouring millions into expansion with an election looming? Political suicide would be the description. The first time around it was to lure the U-20 World Cup here but this expansion would be only to house millionaire’s toys. There is no benefit to the city as Argos’ playoff games and Grey Cups would always return to Rogers Centre. The Argos don’t have $20 Million plus (more likely $30M plus) to spend on expansion. Their infamous pullout from the York University site seems to be proof of this. The CFL will not pour that kind of money into Toronto’s team. You could imagine the uproar from Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Calgary etc. all much stronger and more deserving CFL clubs. And finally, our pals MLSE. They like getting stadiums for very little then running them at a profit, not pouring millions into projects. That is unless…

MLSE IS NOT SO INNOCENT? Again, there is no proof of this but don’t tell me an organization of MLSE’s wealth has no say about what happens at BMO. There is no way this group of millionaires didn’t get solid deals in their contracts with the city that give them an equal say on the stadium’s affairs. All we can hope for is that the hockey-puck section of the MLSE board isn’t looking at TFC like a fatted calf and thinking that BMO will still be sold-out if it ends up looking like a CFL stadium where a soccer team sometimes plays. The only worry I have with MLSE is if there is more money to be made (by having the Argos at BMO) they will pursue it to its fullest no matter the cost to TFC supporters or to BMO Field’s…

TURF: This to me would be the straw that broke Andy Welsh’s back. Football (the real kind) purists in Toronto will never be able to accept gridiron lines on our pitch. I truly believe attendance would plummet at the first sight of yard lines. There is absolutely no proof that these lines can be FULLY erased from a pitch. Even billion-dollar Wembley Stadium had trouble getting the paint off after last year’s NFL match in London. Premier League Wigan has trouble getting rugby lines to go away. What makes anyone believe that Toronto and MLSE to be exact will find the magic potion? It cannot be compared to the Rogers Centre situation either as that stadium uses a zipper system with hundreds of individual pieces of carpet as opposed to our full pitch Field Turf. The only way to guarantee no lines is with two separate pitches and MLSE will not be forking out for that. Don’t forget, with the CFL you don’t just get yard lines but also really attractive giant Rona Hardware logos all over the field. I just heard a TFC supporter faint.

STADIUM EXTRAS: It’s not just the seats and the pitch you know. Think about the added costs of much bigger dressing rooms for a gridiron team, the new giant weight rooms to build those helmet-clad monsters and office space for the new CFL tenants. What will Paul Winsper say when the Argos mess up his awesome new facility?! Also, how long before the “Double Blue” complain about all the red seats and soccer flags? The construction costs continue to rise but the cost of killing BMO’s atmosphere is even higher.

THE CONSTRUCTION PERIOD: Finally, this one has got me really confused. The facility manager or someone like that was telling the local media construction would take 8-12 months. If the south end, the north end and the curved corner stands all have to be modified, where will all those season ticket holders be sitting for most of one season? Will TFC be setting up Columbus style bleachers for every home match? That seems unlikely, yet this is just another in the (obviously) long list of unanswered questions.

Wherever the truth does lie, one thing is certain, The Yorkies and all the other great supporters groups must and will stand against this major mistake. If BMO Field loses its’ real football atmosphere it will eventually lose the support. The support is the soul of the club and without it… well that is too unbearable to even consider. We can hope that the Argos are playing a game of chicken with Rogers but let’s never take our eye off the ball. Otherwise our ball may be bouncing over a faded Rona Hardware sign.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Match Report: New York Red Bulls @ TFC

It's a beautiful, sunny night... somewhere else. Under the blanket of a threatening rain storm, it's a cold-ish Thursday night where the world champions elect take their 3 game win streak against New York Extreme Beverage (2-1-1) at the B. The 7:00pm kick-off for tonight's contest provided us with an attendance under 20,000 but I bet you still couldn't buy a ticket.

Still deliriously optimistic about the season? Yes. Still weary about the rain? Maybe.

Ex-Celtic (name dropping) Oliver Tebily is not starting. But the line up doesn't look much different from Saturday.

Yes, I'm late on the report. I have a life dammit. :)

I've got my shoes on now... so lets dance! Mid-113 predictions had all victories for TFC, just one called a 1-1 draw. Pshaw!

Pregame - The BMO Community Fan of the game is kinda hot. She can help out my community any day... in my PANTS! (I'm kidding, but she was certainly attractive)

2 - Southside was in full voice, just not in sync about it.

12 - Magee for NYEB crosses into the box, harmlessly headed away.

13 - van den Burgh corner, harmlessly headed away. Seriously, ask KC how well that fared for them.

15 - There was a foul. I missed it because I was trying to remember how the "Are you Kansas City in disguise" song goes. Philly calls it that there was a handball on NYEB and no call, then Toronto goes in for a harmless challenge and gets a free kick called against us.

16 - Marvell Wynne puts on a clinic on how to defend.

18 - Magee goes for corner #2, and ends up at the head of Wee Jimmy B. Failure.

19 - Claudio Reyna goes for a corner. The BRILLIANT U-Sector poster they held up as Reyna takes the shot can only be seen to be appreciated.

21 - Edu gets a weak shot on NYEB keeper Tim Conway. I know his name is Jon, but it's funny cuz I'm old enough to get it.

22 - Freeman hacks down Wee Jimmy B for a free kick just outside the left side of the penalty area which leads to...

23 - GOAL - Marco Velez flies in unchecked on the back post for a flawless header which Conway can only cry about. Gloriously delivered by Robert. 1-0 to the mighty reds.

25 - Harry Wetnap announces to me that his pants didn't fall around his ankles when Velez scored. Why is this important? Because apparently, when Dichio bagged the first goal in TFC history, he was jumping up and down so much that his pants fell down. I am never turning around again for a goal. Never. It's all about safety and keeping my eyesight intact.

28 - Villa reject John Paul Angel chipped Sutton, but couldn't get it under the bar. Hell of an attempt.

29 - Dichio to Robert, Robert back to Dichio, Dichio to Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!) skidded just wide of the post.

30 - Ricketts with a brilliant tackle that this uncommon in this league. All confidence, all ball, no leg. Top shelf stuff.

31 - Marco Velez chant along the lines of the Marco Polo game. Brilliant and simple.

38 - Apparently if you're marking your player, and he back heels it to your hand at close quarters, results in a free kick because, of course, you were anticipating a back heel and wanted to put your hand in the way to stop it.

39 - GOAL - NYEB van den Burgh, who has been playing like ass all game thus far, somehow sneaks a ball around a wall and into the far right corner, out of the reach of Sutton. Bastard ref.

44 - Dichio turns and gets a weak shot off. Ball comes out and Wynne chases down the ball, and takes it from him as if his opponent never played footie in his life.

Halftime one-word emotions : freezing, numb, gutted, horny, content, ready-to-go, good. I'm surrounded by poets.

47 - Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!) free kick, hooked in, Dichio couldn't quite get hit head to it, Velez diving couldn't quite get his head to it.

49 - Freeman barrels over Robert, gets a free kick which should've been booked, after getting up, Robert snapped and grabs him by the collar and jiu-jistu tosses him to the turf. Gets booked for the throw. The ref is mentally challenged and Robert is still fuming.

50 - Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!) gets booked because Magee dived. The ref could use the help of a seeing eye dog. Hell, he should be a politician.

54 - Robinson with a quality tackle that if he remotely missed, he'd have been booked.

56 - Jimmy B makes his way into the box, hooks it to Ricketts, and the return ball gets desparately knocked out for a corner.

61 - Robert to Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!), Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!) to the ghost of Dichio as Dichio was travelling the wrong direction that the ball was laid to. And I'm still pissed at the bullshit bookings.

64 - Edu beats Freeman on a nothing ball, only to see his shot sail wide.

66 - van den Bergh impedes Edu with a hip check and we only get a free kick. I'd give the ref a rule book, but I doubt he could read it. Robert cuts a ball into the box from the ensuing free kick and "Tim" Conway has it all the way.

67 - We attempt a Rohan Ricketts song to the tune of "Row Row Row Your Boat". Though we laugh, we don't have the heart enough to sing it loud for others to copy. It was that lame.

69 - We establish that Red Bull gives the ref Wings. Prolly his bus fare as well.

70 - Finally, Edu eats the turf and Ubiparipovic gets booked. We didn't think the ref knew how to.

75 - SUB - Jarrod Smith in for Ricketts. Ricketts played an excellent game, as usual.

78 - Edu into the wing, to Smith who hooks it in, cleared back out to Edu who beats about 4 guys before running out of options. Edu was rediculous.

82 - A streaker runs onto the pitch, gets to half circle, sits down and assumes the position to be taken away without resistance. Downside, wasn't naked. Upside, Canadian stereotype.

83 - SUB - Dichio off, Cunningham in. About 38 minutes late.

84 - Free kick from NYEB ends up right in the hands of Sutton. The van den Bergh playing philosophy, if you slam enough shots in enough directions, you're bound to score once.

85 - Leaf fans leave early so they can beat the traffic. Gotta get home to see who's getting voted off in Idol or whatever's on TV on a Thursday.

87 - TFC works the perimiter. Smith is an animal. I was disappointed when Boyens left because of all the "Flight of the Conchords" references we could've done.

92 - Parke for NYEB gave up a huge ball for Guevera (¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!), only for him to put it in the hands of "Tim" Conway

93 - Edu battles with Ubiparipovic, beats him, Goldthwaite does what he could rarely do in a red shirt and stop the ball.

Thumbs Up : U-Sector for the Reyna sign. MAGIC!

Thumbs Down : Our win streak ends. TFC deserved a much better fate than the scoreline displayed.

Man of the Match : Wynne. 10 out of 10. Flawless game. Edu, gets an honourable mention.

Goat : The ref. Idiot. Seriously. I know every team thinks the ref is against their side, but aside from the Kansas City game, I've yet to see a match where a solid arguement couldn't be made that the ref wasn't biased.