SBD/Issue 209/Facilities & Venues

FieldTurf At BMO Field Costing MLS Toronto FC Free Agents

Player Says BMO Field's Field Turf One Reason
He Chose Not To Sign With Toronto FC
MLS Earthquakes F Darren Huckerby last week "came tantalizingly close to signing with" MLS Toronto FC, but the "thought of both playing and practising on Field Turf at BMO [Field] was the deal breaker that sent him to San Jose," according to Dean McNulty of the TORONTO SUN. Huckerby: "The pitch [at BMO] was a big issue and until that gets changed a lot of players are going to be unsure about coming to Toronto." Huckerby said Toronto FC MF Carl Robinson "tried hard to get me to sign, telling me the pitch wasn't too bad really. But it just kept coming back to the turf and that was the deciding factor." Former Toronto FC MF Ronnie O'Brien also "blamed the BMO carpet for his decision to ask of a trade at the end of the 2007 season." O'Brien: "It wasn't playing on the turf that bothered me. It was playing and practising on it that did me in" (TORONTO SUN, 7/19).

FOOTBALL PITCH: In Ottawa, Richard Starnes wrote with talk about the CFL Toronto Argos possibly playing home games at BMO Field after their Rogers Centre lease ends in '09, Pedro Almeida, leader of Toronto FC fan club North End Elites, "wants to know why anyone would want to destory a stadium built specifically for soccer." Sharing the stadium with the Agros would mean "knocking down the South Stand, building new stands at either end and covering the playing surface with football lines." Almeida: "We have nothing against the Argos. But Toronto FC fans signed up in thousands to support this team based on the premise of it being a soccer-specific stadium with real grass and an intimate setting. We didn't get the grass. We better keep the intimate setting." Canadian Soccer Federation founding member Dino Rossi said that there is "legitimate concern that the powers that be who run BMO Field and the City of Toronto -- it owns the place -- are more than open to the idea of extending the stadium." However, Starnes wrote it is "hard to believe the city would be ready to spend maybe $30[M] more to revamp BMO Field" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 7/19).

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