|MLSE Pitches BMO Field As Site For
Future NHL Outdoor Game
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) has "made a pitch to the NHL for Toronto to hold the annual Winter Classic at BMO Field, a pair of entry drafts, as well as all-star games for both" the NHL and MLS, according to Daniel Girard of the TORONTO STAR. MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie said that the company, which owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC, has "made a formal pitch for the 2011 and 2012 NHL entry drafts," and that the league "'clearly knows we're interested' in a future all-star game and the Winter Classic." Girard notes Peddie and Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke yesterday guided NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "through MLSE's new training complex" in Etobicoke, Ontario. Bettman "also got a walk through the company's Maple Leaf Square development around the Air Canada Centre, which could be a focal point of public draft and all-star game festivities" (TORONTO STAR, 11/11
). Burke said "part of the attraction" of BMO Field hosting the Winter Classic is the "surrounding facilities." Burke: "There is underground parking, there are indoor facilities where fans could get out of the bitter cold if they had to. ... We think we could put something attractive together" (TORONTO SUN, 11/11
). BMO Field "has a capacity of just over 20,000 for soccer," but MLSE VP & COO Tom Anselmi said the company is looking at the "feasibility of adding a handful of seats for next year." Anselmi: "We want an outdoor game for Toronto and the league is aware of that. We think it could be spectacular at BMO field. I see filling the seats plus 'festival seating' on the field for at least 25,000 total attendance" (TSN.ca, 11/10
ALL ABOUT LOCATION: The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair wrote, "By what stretch does BMO Field deserve to be site of the annual outdoor game?" Putting the game in as "non-descript a facility as BMO Field would cheapen the event." The "success of the game owes in part to the locale -- the bitter cold of Edmonton or Buffalo, the niftiness and quaintness and novelty of Wrigley Field." Playing the game at BMO Field "would serve no purpose other than being a sop for MLSE" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 11/10).