SBD/May 28, 2014/Facilities

Leiweke Denies Report MLSE Has Halted Plans To Renovate BMO Field For CFL Argonauts

BMO Field renovation plans are on hold as MLSE attempts to secure government funds
MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke yesterday "rejected" a Globe & Mail report that said that the company "has 'cancelled' its plan to renovate" BMO Field, which would allow the CFL Argonauts to play there after the team's Rogers Centre lease expires in '17, according to Daniel Dale of the TORONTO STAR. Leiweke said that the relocation plan "is not dead -- just 'on hold' as MLSE attempts to secure" C$10M from the provincial government, which is in the middle of an election campaign, and C$10M from the federal government. He added that MLSE "still faces pressure to add about 8,000 permanent seats to the city-owned stadium in time for the Pan Am Games next summer." So the company wants the Toronto City Council to "quickly sign off on a scaled-back renovation which would add those seats and build a roof." Leiweke: "There is a path. It may be a year later than initially expected." He added, "There is no stress or tension here, nor is there any disagreement between us and the governments." Argonauts Exec Chair & CEO Chris Rudge said, "We still believe that the project will eventually move forward as it was always anticipated" (TORONTO STAR, 5/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's Kelly & Curry in the original report wrote cancelling plans to have the Argonauts play at a renovated BMO Field would "leave one of the continent's most historic sports franchises without a venue in which to play" come '18. The federal government has "yet to sign off on its part of the expenditure," apparently because of the "optics of funding sports stadiums." Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel's Press Secretary Vincent Rabault in an e-mail wrote, "Our government will not fund the BMO Field as long as it is used by a professional sports team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/27).
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