A potential business deal between Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the owner of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts could mean Toronto FC will soon share their practice facilities, and one day BMO Field.
TSN’s David Naylor reported on Tuesday that the Argonauts could be sold within a matter of weeks to either MLSE or its chairman, Larry Tanenbaum, and that the CFL team would eventually take up residence at a renovated BMO Field after the 2017 season.
The report also indicates that the deal would mean the Argos would immediately begin sharing TFC’s practice facility, the KIA Training Ground. The facility includes three full-size grass fields, four artificial fields and a 40,000 square foot field house in the north-Toronto area of Downsview.
TSN’s report indicates that MLSE’s purchase of the Argos could be a step closer to one day bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto. Reports surfaced in November of Tanenbaum, MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke and rock star Jon Bon Jovi teaming up to pursue a future relocation of the Buffalo Bills.
Leiweke has discussed the possibility of the Argos playing at BMO Field in the past and has gone on record about potential stadium renovation in the future. Leiweke also said last November, however, that Toronto FC will be the top priority if the stadium undergoes renovation.
“Our first focus has been and continue to be how we fix BMO Field for soccer,” Leiweke told Sportsnet. “That has to be highest priority. We have to make it better than it is for soccer. We can’t ask our fans to sacrifice their views or their environment.
“Our soccer fans get mad at us when this football thing comes up, and we are not going to declare war on our fans.”
During an interview last September, Leiweke expressed the opinion that both the Reds and Argos can call BMO Field home, citing Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium as a site where both an MLS team – the Dynamo – and football can co-exist.
The Dynamo currently share BBVA with the Texas Southern University football team, and the stadium has also played host to the University of Houston football team.
“There is a way to schedule it,” Leiweke said last fall. “You can't have a CFL game and a soccer game on the same weekend so we have spent a little time talking to both leagues to see if there's a way to schedule it.
“I think we can get to the right place if that was where we were headed, but we are in the very early stages and don't know if we can make this work. "