Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) certainly is thinking big when it comes to the future of BMO Field: proposed renovations would allow the Toronto venue to host high-profile friendlies and tournament in addition to MLS play.
The business plan is pretty much laid out for MLSE: continue emphasizing the resources put into Toronto FC, host a high-profile this summer (AC Milan-Olympiacos, moved from New York’s Citi Field), continue to put money into BMO Field, and then announce plans to host the Guinness International Champions Cup in 2015. The emphasis is how much money MLSE is putting into BMO Field and stadium operations while seeking further funding from the federal government. All in all, MLSE has a $120-million plan for BMO Field renovations: the organization is putting in $90 million, with the city and the province putting in $10 million apiece. The city portion — framed as a loan — is already approved, but provincial and federal funding is pending.
MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke see the pre-season tournament as another step down the road to making Toronto the soccer capital of North America.
An expanded hosting role in the event also give him more ammunition in his bid to secure $20 million more in government funding for the stadium renovation.
The first part of the stadium renovation is slated to start in September and finish in May, with a goal of expanding BMO Field to a capacity of 30,000 in time for the rugby sevens competition at the Pan American Games.
Phase 2 will start after the Games, with a completion date of May 2016. That would mostly involve the roof.
It’s a pretty ambitious plan, to be sure.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.