After months of construction and renovation work, Toronto FC re-opened BMO Field with a 1-0 victory against FC Dallas. Here's 10 Things to know about the new BMO Field:
Originally opened in 2007, BMO Field's renovation was completed in phases over the last two offseasons with ground broken on the project back in September of 2014 at a cost of $150 million. Come Saturday, it will host its first MLS game of the season when Toronto FC return to their home after a wandering eight-match road trip to start 2016.
Expanded capacity to over 30,000
Since its inception, the ground's capacity has steadily crept upwards from an initial 20,000 to 21,800 and 22,500 by 2014. With the completion of the second-tier on the East Stand in Phase I, the official capacity of the stadium has now surpassed the 30,000-mark to 30,226.
The primary feature that will draw the eye come Saturday is the centerpiece of Phase II: a canopied-roof that will cover all three stands. In an engineering feat, the southern section of the canopy, weighing just shy of a million pounds, was lifted as a single piece in February.
Technology at its finest
Phase II also saw several other features added to enhance the game-day experience, including the installation of state-of-the art lighting and sound systems, which will make a neat addition to the massive HD video board put in place during Phase I.
Old school supporters' passion
And if technology doesn't stoke one's interest, a pulley-system to assist in the displaying of Supporters' tifo has also been installed in the South End, adding yet another dimension to the fan support TFC enjoys at home. Further enhancing the raucous atmosphere, all of the club's supporters groups have been condensed into that section of the stadium, where their vociferousness caroming off the roof will create a great din. Oh yes, there will be noise.
A premium multi-sport venue
In addition to being home to TFC, BMO Field will also welcome the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2016. And in the coming year, it will play host to both the 2016 Grey Cup (the CFL's version of the Super Bowl) and the NHL Centennial Classic, an outdoor match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings in January 2017.
As well as hosting the occasional rugby match, the stadium will also see international soccer, with the Canadian women's national team set to face Brazil on June 4.
With concerns over the shared pitch taking a pounding, the grounds crew has been hard at work preparing to keep it pristine throughout the long season, as detailed in this piece at Toronto FC's website. Their efforts have included extensive research to ensure those lines for other sports will only be visible when desired.
More of everything
Where Phase II focused on the construction of the roof, Phase I saw a variety of improvements to the general amenities. With the completion of the upper bowl on the East Stand, a wrap-around concourse now connects all three stands, featuring 10 new concession points, 15 new restrooms, a range of new suites, and an additional entrance gate.
One of those premium options for fans seeking a more intimate perspective on the game-day experience is the Tunnel Club, situated opposite the door to the TFC dressing room, where spectators can watch the players as they enter and exit the pitch.
Don't forget the food!
As well as the usual match-day fare, BMO Field also offers a variety of options for any palate, including Belgian-style frites with a plethora of toppings, the best of BBQ – ribs and brisket – a cornucopia of sandwiches representing the many cultures that comprise the city, and, of course, poutine.
If that does not cause the mouth to water, perhaps this 3D seating viewfinder will, where fans can scope out how the action will appear from their location.
And most importantly...
Live soccer action. Fans have waited months for their first sampling of MLS in the flesh. Toronto FC are ready to come home, where they will be welcomed by their fans in the new and improved BMO Field.