Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is planning to spend $120 million on BMO Field upgrades, with the organization picking up most of the tab for changes to the home of Toronto FC (MLS).
The stadium will be expanded to 30,000 capacity for soccer and 25,000 for football, with a design that allows 10,000 extra seats for big events, which could include hosting the Grey Cup or a possible Winter Classic or NHL-sanctioned hockey game. The NHL probably won’t consider a venue under 40,000 for a Winter Classic game, and a stadium renovation puts MLSE in line to pitch for a 2018 game.
MLSE will front the entire BMO Field upgrades renovation cost and is seeking $10 million each from the city, province and federal government to help defray those costs. The city has already agreed to $10 million toward BMO Field upgrades, while federal and provincial approval is pending.
The BMO Field upgrades are actually basic in nature: more seats, an expanded concourse, and the addition of suites and club seats. There will be roofing on all four sides, along with an additional upper deck. This would would begin after the Toronto FC season ends and run through the beginning of the 2015 season, which means Toronto FC will open the season on the road and perhaps give up as many as two home matches in 2015. The second phase of expansion would run from September 2015 through 2016. By splitting the work in two phases, Toronto FC can maintain a relatively normal schedule.
One condition applied by the city: The CFL’s Toronto Argonauts must play their home games there as well. While MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke indicated this wasn’t an issue and indeed welcomed a closer relationship with the Argos ownership — but he stopped short of saying that MLSE planned on buying the team, which currently plays at Rogers Centre.