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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Editorial: Not Coming To BMO: Your Toronto Argonauts

Plain and simple. BMO field is going to remain as is : a soccer pitch.

Why am I so certain of it? Economics. Common sense. Logistics.

Hypothetically speaking, say the Argos truly want to move into Exhibition Stadium/New Fort York.

What needs to take place?

Expansion of the field. And IF this does happen, you can guarantee, it'll be at the expense of north side and not the south side. Can they go closer to the Food building (which is the best name for a building ever)? I don't know, but I can't imagine there's much room. And do they build around the score board? I'd love to know what the footprint of the ground would look like with expansion of the north end. Either way, something has to give if this preposterous plan is to go forward.

Let's see, what is carrying TFC forward at the gates? Is it the blistering successful brand of soccer that MoJo has built? Nope. Has it been the overwhelming calibre of play that Major League Soccer offers? Hell no. If that were the case, you'd see more kids wearing Chicago Blanco and Houston DeRo shirts, but they're not. Most of the people probably don't realize that DeRo is a local, but that's just my speculation.

It's atmosphere. Really, what else is there about TFC that is overwhelmingly positive right now? Go ahead, start listing them.

So, let's assume that in addition of the Argos moving in that they do demo the south stands. Where do we, the blind hardcore of the hardcore get displaced to for at LEAST a season. Good seats? Nope. Those fancy makeshift pub seats at ground level? nope. Temporary stands on the north side? Ha, no. 3000 people is hard to move in a stadium that has no easy expansion. So, again, hypothetically, TFC DOES demo the south stands and we have no tickets for the season.

Think about it. 17000 people go for the atmosphere that, being the only positive thing that TFC really has right now, will largely be absent for the season. Does anyone think that these part-time, band-wagon, 'summer Leaf' supporters are going to stick around for the same exciting and flowing brand of soccer that MoJo has bestowed upon us this season? In a city that only supports winners (it wasn't that long ago where plenty of good Raptors seats were still available, but then they became a good team), how long before the ship gets abandoned without the current drawing card, that is hardcore support?

Secondly, MLS mandate. Right now, TFC and the MLSE are the poster children on 'how to start an MLS franchise'. Barriers to entry for an MLS team are (a) owners with deep pockets and (b) a soccer specific (or plans for a soccer specific) stadium. Now TFC becomes the first team to go from a soccer specific stadium to a multi-purpose ground. Yes, I'm sure MLS will LOVE that idea. That won't get them into deep crap, will it? I'm sure MLS has ways of punishing TFC if that were to go through without their permission.

Thirdly, how much revenue could the Argos generate? For a maximum of 10 home dates per year? Enough to recoup the expense of a ground renovation? And at who's dime? The city? The province? The Argos?

Sympathy for the Argo plight is nil right now. Their owners balked at a multi-purpose stadium at York for the "free rent" at Rogers Centre. Now they're in a situation where they feel they deserve a better chunk of the income. Let us not forget, the Argos, much like the the majority of the CFL (if not all of the CFL), run at an operating profit right now. They are not crying poor as they are crying not rich enough.

There's only one group of people benefiting from this talk right now and that's solely the Argos. Of course the CFL Commissioner is going to bat for the team in the biggest city in the league. Hell, if I were commissioner, I'd likely be talking the same thing. He's trying to put media pressure on the Rogers people to pony up a better deal for the Argos. Trying to play one off the other. If I were Ted Rogers, I would still have to believe that I've got the Argos right where I want them. They have no bargaining power.

If the renovation of New Fort York were to cost in around 8-10 million dollars, wouldn't it be worth it to just spend triple and have your own stadium to do as you will with it? You can have a no frills ground for $30 million (real estate costs notwithstanding) that seats 25000. If the Argos were that desparate for a better slice of the pie, wouldn't it be better to just build your own bakery.

There is no reasonable way the Argos are going to ruin our "good thing".

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Editorial: Bleak To The Future

The rumours of a possible Argos move to BMO Field refuse to die and in fact appear more often in Toronto media. TFC's supporters get more frustrated at MLSE's silence over the issue and the corporation's unbelievable claims that they are at the mercy of the big bad City Of Toronto's government. Protests grow louder and more creative but are met with indifference from Bay Street. Leafs' season begins and all MLSE executives go into hibernation at the ACC sushi bar until May.

MID 2009

As the Argos' lease at the Rogers Centre nears an end, a joyous press conference is called with the Argos, TFC and the City in attendance. A grand expansion of BMO Field is announced with the stadium capacity growing to 30,000. The architectural drawings show great features like retractable south and north end stands and also show a gleaming green field with no gridiron marks in the soccer set-up. The next day's headline: "WORLD'S WORST KEPT SECRET ANNOUNCED"


Construction begins with demolition of north and south ends. The City of Toronto suddenly realizes they have no money and cannot possibly justify the high-end features for the stadium. An architect with a map and half a brain then realizes that the Food Building in the north and Princes' Blvd. in the south make construction a lot trickier - and expensive. The north and south end retractable seats, and eventually both stands, are scrapped from the plan in favour of a bigger east stand upper deck. The open-ended end zones will be perfect for parking ambulances and utility vehicles much like at all other CFL stadia.


A harsh winter (really surprising in usually tropical Toronto) and the unexpected size of the construction project mean major delays. TFC starts the season on 7-game road swing until it is finally decided that the rest of the 2010 home schedule will have to be played at Rogers Centre. 500-Level streamer tossing becomes a major hobby for cheap-seat supporters.


"New BMO Field" opens to much fanfare, just in time for the new MLS campaign. The huge upper east stand deck is met with groans by the relocated supporter's groups who have been moved up there after the south end was demolished for an end-zone. The supporter's groups complain. MLSE does not listen. Non-footy supporters laud the great facility and scoff at TFC supporters’ previous fears especially as the turf has no gridiron markings on it.


TFC plays its' first match after an Argos game the previous night. The sell-out crowd grumbles their disapproval as the turf has visible "Rona Hardware" and "Wendy's" ads on it as well as all of the previous evening's gridiron lines and numbers and of course, a giant Argos' "A" in the midfield. Supporter's groups howl at MLSE over their broken promises. MLSE does not listen.

FALL 2011

As the MLS season continues, purist footy fans stop showing up to TFC matches. The TFC season finale vs. the expansion St. Louis Knights is played before a half-empty stadium with clearly visible CFL markings on the field as BMO gets ready to host it's first Grey Cup game. (In case you are wondering, TFC misses the 2011 playoffs as Mo Johnston still can't find a striker)


Crowds dwindle as MLSE finally admits that you can never fully erase the CFL lines off of field turf and refuse to spend the money on a second pitch for TFC use. MLSE attempts to breathe life into the sputtering team by introducing new team mascot "Scorer" The Soccer Loving Lion! Also joining "Scorer" are the TFC City Dancers, more thundersticks than supporters, and rows upon rows of high-pitched screaming youth teams and their moms in the stands to replace the mostly departed and mistreated supporter's groups. In a last ditch attempt at success, TFC finally signs it's first Designated Player. 37 year-old Alessandro Del Piero comes out of retirement but sadly trips over "Scorer's" tail during warm-ups and blows out his knee, ending his career - again.


Toronto's hockey-obsessed media are heard giggling to themselves as languishing TFC are sold to a group from New York City for $60 Million where they are to move into a new Soccer Specific Stadium in Queens. Mo Johnston immediately calls "New York Cosmos 2" for a job. TFC becomes a footnote in football history as the city's media blames the fans "for not supporting the team". MLSE continues its lease on BMO Field "Home Of The Argos" and makes a tidy profit on its soccer adventure. The end to a sad, greedy story. Let us hope it stays fictional.