It appears that Toronto FC won't have a new gridiron roommate at BMO Field after all – at least not any time soon.
On Tuesday morning the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the plan to remodel TFC's stadium with an eye towards becoming the home of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts has hit a major snag, as the federal government in Ottawa is wavering on its planned CDN $10 million contribution toward the project.
Officials in Ottawa are apparently concerned with “the optics of funding sports stadiums” from public coffers.
That has prompted TFC owners Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to remove Canadian football from their plans for BMO Field's facelift, which is scheduled to begin in September and must be competed in time to host rugby matches at next summer's Pan-Am Games.
“New architectural plans have been drawn,” writes the Globe and Mail's Cathal Kelly. “A $120 million reno becomes a $100 million one. The arena will be rebuilt to its current dimensions, meaning there will be no north-south extension and no room for football end zones.”
That's bad news for the Argonauts, who have been asked to leave their current home, the Rogers Centre, by 2017, as baseball's Toronto Blue Jays prepare to install a natural-grass playing surface which is considered too fragile to host football games.
But it's good news in the eyes of many TFC fans, who were unenthusiastic about sharing their stadium with a football team given the risk of visible gridiron lines and the need to expand BMO Field's dimensions to accommodate the 150-yard-long field used in CFL play.
The decision is reversible, however. MLSE's remodeling plans call for the use of temporary seating in the north end of the facility, allowing for a future CFL-oriented expansion should all parties agree on such.