BMO Field

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BMO Field
BMOFieldLogo.png
Toronto FC Anthems BMO.jpg
Location 170 Princes Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario M6K 3C3
Coordinates 43°37′58″N 79°25′07″W / 43.63278°N 79.41861°W / 43.63278; -79.41861Coordinates: 43°37′58″N 79°25′07″W / 43.63278°N 79.41861°W / 43.63278; -79.41861
Broke ground March 29, 2006[1]
Opened April 28, 2007
Expanded 2010
Owner City of Toronto
Operator MLSE Ltd.
Surface FieldTurf 2006 to 2009
Grass 2010 to present
Construction cost CAD$62.9 million
($69.4 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect Brisbin Brooks Beynon Architects (BBB Architects)
Project manager PMX, Inc.[3]
Structural engineer Halcrow Yolles[4]
Services engineer The Mitchell Partnership Inc.[5]
General contractor PCL Constructors Canada Inc.[6]
Capacity 21,566 (soccer)[7]
Field size 105 × 68 metres
Tenants
Canada men's national soccer team (2007–present)
Toronto FC (MLS) (2007–present)
Toronto Nationals (MLL) (2008)
Canada national rugby union team (2011–present)

BMO Field /ˈbm/ is a Canadian soccer stadium located in Exhibition Place in the city of Toronto. The open-air structure can seat up to 21,566[7] spectators in its standard configuation for soccer. It is owned by the City of Toronto, and managed by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. It opened on April 28, 2007 with a 1–0 loss by home side Toronto FC against the Kansas City Wizards.

The stadium is called the National Soccer Stadium when it hosts FIFA events. It hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup and will host the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. It also hosted the MLS Cup 2010 on November 21, 2010.

History[edit]

BMO Field is the fifth stadium to be built at its exact location at Exhibition Place. The most recent was Exhibition Stadium, former home of the Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Blue Jays, which lost its permanent tenants with the opening of SkyDome (Rogers Centre since 2005) in 1989. Exhibition Stadium was demolished in 1999.

When the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) applied to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the governments of Canada and Ontario agreed to provide a combined $35 million to fund a new stadium in Toronto for the games if the bid was successful.[8] At the time, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) was looking for a stadium for their new MLS team to play in, as were the Toronto Argonauts. The three groups originally agreed to partner on building a new 25,000-seat, $80 million Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto.[8][9][10] Aside from the government funding, $15 million was to come from the UofT, which would own the stadium, and a $30 million loan would be taken out by the University with the annual $2.1 million financing charges paid by the Argos.[8] However, MLSE backed out of the stadium due to a lack of financial return, and the deal ultimately fell through in 2004 when the University's new President withdrew his support after its cost rose over $100 million.[9][10][11][12]

Later that year, the Argos announced plans to build a 25,000-seat, $70 million stadium at York University, which would contribute the land and $15 million, with the Argos adding $20 million to the government funding,[9][13] though MLSE not involved in the project.[14] However, the Argos pulled out of the stadium after signing a new 15 year lease at Rogers Centre with significantly reduced rent.[15]

The eventual site was moved to the location of demolished Exhibition Stadium and then-existing Sports Hall of Fame building. When City of Toronto approved funding BMO Field, the proposal was for a stadium that was "capable of a conversion to a football format."[16][17] The Argos wanted to join Toronto FC at BMO Field, but MLSE, citing budget and time limitations (even though the budget didn't change after the City gave their approval), constructed the stadium such that it was incompatible with CFL football[18] without demolition and reconstruction of the endzone stands.[16][19]

On May 11, 2006, Major League Soccer announced that Toronto FC would join the league as its thirteenth (and first Canada-based) team in 2007. The league considers soccer-specific stadiums to be a critical part of its strategy; MLS commissioner Don Garber has been adamant that expansion teams must have plans for a soccer-specific stadium in place to be granted a franchise. These facilities are thought to improve overall crowd atmosphere (because they are smaller than stadiums built primarily for NFL football or CFL football), and may allow teams to control most revenues generated by their facilities.

On August 31, 2006, the Toronto Star reported that BMO Financial Group purchased the naming rights to the stadium, known then as the National Soccer Stadium.[20] BMO is the stock ticker symbol of the Bank of Montreal, whose operational headquarters are in Toronto, despite its Montreal name (though the bank still has its legal corporate headquarters in the namesake city). The symbol is often pronounced "BEE-moe", as are references to the bank itself. On September 20, 2006, stadium webcam viewers watched as a banner was raised on the West Grandstand renaming the stadium "BMO Field". The name was later announced on the team's official website. It was referred to under the National Soccer Stadium name in official references to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, as non-FIFA-supporting sponsors were not permitted references.

BMO Field has become a home venue for Canada's national rugby union team. The team has played two matches at the venue to date, including one against the United States in 2011 and another against Italy in 2012. Canada's has three home games planned in 2013: Ireland for a mid-June test,[21] the USA for an August Rugby World Cup qualifying match[22] and the New Zealand Maori for a Fall test match.[23]

Since its opening[edit]

The grand opening celebration took place on May 12, 2007.[24]

The only music concert thus far at BMO Field was performed by progressive rock group Genesis on September 7, 2007.

The 2008 MLS All Star game was held at BMO Field on July 24, 2008 versus West Ham United F.C. of the English Premier League.

In 2009, the Toronto Nationals of Major League Lacrosse began playing their home games at BMO Field. The team moved over to Lamport Stadium for 2010 and have since moved to Hamilton in 2011.

On July 18, 2009, BMO Field had its first alcohol suspension, due to an incident that occurred on May 21, 2008, regarding alcohol consumption by a minor.[25]

In November 2009, it became public that the owners of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League were in discussions with the City of Toronto over the possibility of moving from the Rogers Centre to BMO Field, potentially as early as the 2010 CFL season.[26] The CFL agreed to study the feasibility of the Argos playing at BMO Field, which was built too short to fit a full length CFL field.[27] According the MLSE chief operating officer Tom Anselmi, without significant renovations BMO Field could only fit a 100-yard field with 15-yard endzones or a 110-yard field with 10-yard endzones, which is 20-yards short of the standard 110-yard field and 20-yard endzones.[28] On December 16, 2009, the Argonauts officially abandoned the idea following receipt of the CFL study, which stated that "Canadian football could not be played there in its current state."[29] As of 2010, Toronto FC are contemplating the possibility of expanding the facility. BMO Field could accommodate an additional 8000 spectators without making fundamental changes to the existing facility, increasing the ground's total capacity upwards of 30,000.[30]

The BMO Field became the first venue outside of the United States to host the MLS Cup in 2010 featuring the Colorado Rapids defeating FC Dallas 2–1.

Historic goals[edit]

The first goal at BMO Field was scored by Eddie Johnson for Kansas City Wizards in a 1–0 Major League Soccer win over home side Toronto FC in the stadium opener on April 28, 2007. The first ever Toronto FC goal at the stadium was Danny Dichio's first-half strike against Chicago Fire on May 12, 2007 (also his club's first ever MLS goal).

The first goal at BMO Field scored by a Canadian came at the official opening on May 11, 2007, in a U-20 friendly between Canada and Argentina. David Edgar scored a penalty in a 2–1 defeat for Canada, just four minutes after Alejandro Gomez had scored the first ever international goal at the stadium.

Costa Rica's Víctor Núñez scored the first ever senior international goal in a 1–1 friendly draw with hosts Canada on September 12, 2007, shortly before Dwayne De Rosario scored Canada's first senior goal at the stadium.

The first Toronto FC goal scored by a Canadian at BMO Field was in a June 25, 2007 friendly against Aston Villa of the English Premier League. Andrea Lombardo scored an equalizer at BMO Field's south end to make it 2–2 before Aston Villa ran out 4–2 winners. The first league goal at BMO Field scored by a Canadian came when Miguel Cañizalez scored for Toronto FC in the second minute of their 2–1 defeat to Columbus Crew on September 22, 2007, snapping an 824-minute MLS goalless streak.

On May 19, 2007, Bolivian forward Jaime Moreno scored his 108th MLS goal on a penalty kick for D.C. United in their 2–1 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field, tying him for the all-time league lead with Jason Kreis. Moreno has since taken sole ownership of the record.

In lacrosse, the first MLL goal at BMO Field was scored by Merrick Thomson of the Toronto Nationals in a 15-11 win in their home opener on May 22, 2009.

Management, ownership and funding[edit]

With a total costs of $62.9 million (all figures are in Canadian dollars) to build the stadium[31] ($72.8 million including the land), financial contributions came from multiple sources.[32] The Canadian Federal Government contributed $27 million, the Government of Ontario added an additional $8 million, and the City of Toronto paid $9.8 million and contributed the land for the project (valued at $10 million),[33][34] while retaining ownership of the stadium.[34] Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), owners of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs and the National Basketball Association's Toronto Raptors, contributed $8 million towards construction costs and was responsible for any cost overruns.[34] In return, they got the management rights for the stadium.[35] MLSE committed to purchase a MLS soccer team to play in the stadium. The remaining funds came from MLSE, which paid $10 million for the naming rights of the stadium for the duration of the 20 year management agreement, which they later resold to the Bank of Montreal for $27 million over the first 10 years.[34][36][37]

Prior to the 2010 season, MLSE spent $3.5 million to convert the stadium from Field Turf to natural grass,[33][38] and a further $2 million to expand the north end by 1,400 seats.[39][40] As part of the deal to convert the field to natural grass, MLSE spent $1.2 million adding a winter bubble to Lamport Stadium and $800,000 building a new artificial turf field to replace the community use hours lost at BMO.[41]

Renovation[edit]

Tom Anselmi, former executive vice-president and chief operating officer with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, has indicated that a second level could be added to the east side stands and extra rows added to the south side stands, which would add an additional 8,000 seats, for approximately $15 million.[42] Following Tim Leiweke taking over as president of MLSE in June 2013, he began discussing the company's plans for a major renovation of the stadium.[43][44][45] In early January 2014, Leiweke said that next six months would be spent consulting with experts to determine the feasibility of the project.[46]

As the stadium is owned by the City of Toronto, their consent is required for any modifications.[47] The City has insisted that any renovations includes making the pitch longer to fit a Canadian football field, as planned in the original stadium agreement, so it can house the Argonauts, who must vacate their current home Rogers Centre by the end of 2017 season.[48][49][50][51] Mark Grimes, Chairman of Exhibition Place's Board, has been negotiating with MLSE on the project and has said "I think I have Mr. Leiweke’s ear in that I am a big CFL fan and that we need to get the Argos on stable ground."[52] Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said that "the Argos have got to play there" and that "I think there is a very good chance that they will."[53] On February 25 Grimes said that a deal was "getting close" and could be reached "in the next couple weeks".[54] Preliminary plans were released to the public on March 5.[7][55]

In addition making the field compatible for CFL games, the $115-120 upgrades would add a new upper deck on the east side, raising capacity from 21,566 seats to 30,000 for soccer, with 25,000 seats in CFL configuration, and would be temporarily expandable with additional endzone seating to 40,000 for big events[7][49][56][50][48][51] such as rugby sevens at the 2015 Pan-Am games, the 2018 NHL Winter Classic, Grey Cup, MLS Cup or a successful 2026 FIFA World Cup by Canada.[7][49][45][51][57][50] The plans call for $30 million retractable endzone seating to ensure that fans aren't farther from the playing surface in soccer configuration due to the longer CFL field,[7][48][51] and a roof over most permanent seating areas.[7][49][56][48] Leiweke has promised that playing surface will remain natural grass,[46] and a reinforced hybrid playing surface such as Desso GrassMaster, in which artificial fibers are embedded in the turf to allow for the grass roots to intertwine with them to strengthen the pitch, is under consideration.[7][51][46][55] Under a two-phase construction process, the field would be lengthened and the capacity of the stadium increased for $77 million by May 1, 2015, with the roof added by May 1, 2016 for $43 million.[56][49][56][51][47]

Leiweke has said that even without an expansion the stadium needs $30 million in repairs, and that the original agreement calls for the city and MLSE to split that bill equally.[58] Instead, MLSE is seeking $10 million in public funding from each of the City, Provincial Government, and Federal Government to top up their $90 million contribution, plus any cost overruns, for the expansion.[49][56][53][50][59] MLSE has argued that the new stadium would result in $8 million in economic benefits, including taxes, accruing to the province annually,[60] and $18 million in taxes on the construction project.[61] The company has agreed to pay a fixed annual rental fee of $865,000 to the City for the upgraded stadium, rather than the variable revenue sharing model under the present agreement which has returned an average of $397,000 to the city over the previous five years, to help ensure that the city recoups its investment.[49][56] The new arrangement would guarantee the city $25.4 million, and with the projected $6 million in parking revenues the $31 million in revenue over the term of the lease would be $19 million more than under the current agreement.[62] As manager of the stadium, MLSE will get any profit turned by the stadium, and be responsible for any losses.[56] MLSE's management and naming rights agreement for the stadium, which was set to expire in 2027, will be extended by 10 years under the proposal.[49][56] The agreement requires MLSE to reach a "long-term use (i.e. 20 years)" lease with the Argos for usage of the stadium starting in 2015.[49][56][50] The proposed renovations were unanimously approved by the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place on March 7,[63][33][49][48][51] and the City of Toronto's Executive Committee gave their consent on March 19.[63][47][64] The full City Council approved the deal on April 3,[63][65][66] and the agreement is planned to be finalized by June 15.[56] The Provincial Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan has said that MLSE has submitted a funding request that that "we are looking at it", while the Federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel's spokesperson said that "the federal government has no program to fund professional sports facilities".[67] A spokesperson for Lebel would later say "our government will not fund the BMO Field as long as it is used by a professional sports team".[61] However, according to Leiweke, the federal funding "is not going to the stadium, their money is going to host big events."[68] In another interview he said "the feds are giving us the resources to (temporarily) expand to 40,000 for our Grey Cup bids and Winter Classic bids".[69] If approved, excavation is scheduled to begin in September.[56][55][51] The designs are expected to be finalized by April.[33][49]

By late May 2014, MLSE had not reached a financing agreement with either the federal or provincial governments to fill the $20 million funding gap. The fall of the government of Ontario, with an election scheduled for June 12, prevented them from approving their share of the funding.[70] With deadlines approaching to start construction to ensure that the stadium is ready for the 2015 Pan-Am games, MLSE decided to move forward with the first phase of the renovation without first securing further funding commitments from the government.[61][68] The revised plan proposes that the lengthening of the field to make it CFL compatible and the infrastructure to allow for a temporary increase in seating capacity be postponed to a third phase costing $20 million to be completed by 1 May 2017, pending a commitment by the governments or other parties to fund it and a usage agreement being reached with the Argos.[71][68][61][72] MLSE agreed to pay the city an additional $160,000 annually for as long as phase 3 remains uncompleted to compensate the city for the envisioned parking revenues at Argos games.[71] Leiweke pledged that if both levels of government funded the project "we're obligated to renovate the stadium for the CFL",[68] but if the necessary conditions for phase 3 are not met by 15 May 2017, MLSE can pull out.[71] The new proposal was approved by city council on June 12.[73] It is thought that if the Liberals win the provincial election they will fund the project.[61]

Major Tournaments[edit]

2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup[edit]

National Soccer Stadium hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup; the first major tournament held at the stadium. The stadium saw the Canadian Under-20 squad once. The stadium also saw six knockout stage games including the Final; which was won by Argentina.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
July 1, 2007  Canada 0–3  Chile Group A 20,195
July 2, 2007  Portugal 2–0  New Zealand Group C 19,526
 Gambia 0–3  Mexico
July 5, 2007  New Zealand 0–1  Gambia
 Mexico 2-1  Portugal
July 8, 2007  Chile 0–0  Austria Group A
July 11, 2007  United States 2-1 (AET)  Uruguay Round of 16
July 12, 2007  Argentina 3-1  Poland
July 14, 2007  Austria 2–1  United States Quarterfinal
July 19, 2007  Chile 0–3  Argentina Semifinal
July 22, 2007  Chile 1–0  Austria 3rd Place Match
 Czech Republic 1–2  Argentina Final 19,526

2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup[edit]

The National Soccer Stadium will host the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014. Canada will be playing in Toronto for the first two match days, with Korea DPR, Finland, and Ghana in their group. National Soccer Stadium will also be hosting the quarter finals match on August.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
August 5, 2014  Canada vs.  Ghana Group A TBD
 Finland vs.  North Korea
August 8, 2014  Canada vs.  Finland
 Ghana vs.  North Korea
August 13, 2014  South Korea vs.  Mexico Group C
 Costa Rica vs.  New Zealand Group D
August 16, 2014 Group A Winners vs. Group B Runner-Up Quarterfinal

2015 Pan American Games[edit]

During the 2015 Pan American Games, BMO Field is scheduled to host the rugby sevens competition. Due to sponsorship regulations, the facility will again be referred to under its previous name of "National Soccer Stadium" during the Games (ironically, BMO Field will not host the soccer competition, which is slated for Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton).[74]

Stadium specifics[edit]

A view of BMO Field's East Grandstand, looking eastward towards downtown Toronto

BMO Field originally used FieldTurf rather than a natural grass pitch, which had attracted some criticism.[75][76] However in 2009, Toronto City Council voted to approve installation of a permanent, natural grass surface beginning in 2010, after MLSE promised to cover all costs of installing and maintaining the surface.[77][78] Previously, a temporary grass turf was laid in August 2009 for an international friendly against Real Madrid, which was later donated to a local public school stadium.[79]

The seats are entirely red with the exception of a design on each of the main stands. On the east side, the design is a large maple leaf while on the lower west stand the design spells out "TORONTO", and has a portion of the Toronto FC logo. The south stand has "BMO" spelled out.[citation needed]

Field of play dimensions are 74 yards (68 m) wide × 115 yards (105 m) long,[80] meeting FIFA standards.

A variety of Kentucky Bluegrass was installed in the spring of 2010, along with a state of the art drainage system and heating system in the field. The first game on natural grass was Toronto FC's home debut on April 15, 2010 versus the expansion Philadelphia Union.

Attendance records[edit]

The largest attendance overall at the stadium was on March 22, 2014 for a Toronto FC game when they hosted D.C. United in front of 22,591 fans in their home opener.[81]

MLS[edit]

Season Season Average Highest gate Lowest gate
2007 20,130 20,522 19,123
2008 20,120 20,461 19,657
2009 20,344 20,902 19,843
2010 20,453 22,108 18,394
2011 20,267 22,453 16,313
2012 18,681 20,071 14,623
2013 17,639 21,700 12,627

Rugby[edit]

The largest crowd for Rugby at the stadium was on November 3, 2013 when Canada national rugby union team hosted the New Zealand Māori All Blacks in front of 22,566 people.[82] The afternoon contest would break records as the largest crowd in Canadian and North American rugby history.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of
Toronto FC

2007–present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of
Toronto Nationals

2009
Succeeded by
Lamport Stadium
Preceded by
Qwest Field
Host of the
MLS Cup

2010
Succeeded by
TBD
Preceded by
Gedebage Stadium
Grand Final stadiums of
Tuyul Rugby Sevens

2014
Succeeded by
Bogor Stadium