Toronto Mayor David Miller today announced that with Provincial and Federal government approvals now in place, a plan by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to increase public access to year-round soccer facilities and install grass at BMO Field can proceed.
"The agreement of our government partners means tremendous things for soccer at both the community and professional levels," Mayor Miller said. "Since BMO Field (Canada's National Soccer Stadium) was built with public money from all three orders of government, their support was necessary to allow this plan to proceed. I want to thank Federal Infrastructure Minister John Baird and Provincial Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best for recognizing this tremendous opportunity and working with the City and MLSE to make it happen.
"This is a terrific example of the public and private sectors working together to build our city and the sport of soccer and also means good things for the community and for the players on Toronto FC and all our National teams."
With the final government approvals - including a unanimous Sept. 30 City Council decision - and the required building permits now secured, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment will invest $5.5 million and manage the work required to advance the sport in Toronto including investments of:
• $3.5 million to replace the Field Turf at BMO Field with a natural grass field.
• $2.0 million investment in community sports facilities; including an estimated $1.2 million to upgrade Allan Lamport Stadium with a winter bubble and an $800,000 investment in another artificial turf soccer field in the city.
"Converting BMO Field into a natural grass surface will have tremendous benefits for our community, our city, Toronto FC and soccer in Canada," said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues and entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "BMO Field's natural grass surface will support growing and developing soccer at amateur, national and professional levels, by creating greater levels of access and opportunity. It will also help attract high-profile soccer events to our stadium, creating a positive economic impact for our city."
Hunter added "There are so many people to thank for their support and approval of this positive initiative including represents from all three levels of government and especially Mayor David Miller and Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone."
The upgrades to these three facilities will result in more than 2,500 more hours available for community sport use and have met with support from the Canadian and Ontario soccer associations as well as residents and businesses near Lamport Stadium in Liberty Village.
It is expected that the bubble will be installed at Lamport by the end of November with work to install grass at BMO Field taking place this fall with completion next spring in time for the start of Major League Soccer's 2010 regular season.