TORONTO–BMO Field officially re-opened on Friday afternoon with a gala event that brought together everyone responsible for the project's successful completion.
MLSE Chairman, Larry Tanenbaum, began the festivities, welcoming everyone back to the "new and spectacular BMO Field."
“The transformation into what you see here today has been an exhaustive, two-year project to deliver a world-class facility for our teams and for our fans,” he said. “We're beyond excited to welcome Toronto FC and the supporters back here.... We look forward to their return to a loud and proud BMO Field.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he will attend Saturday night's home opener against FC Dallas, and that he was looking forward to seeing the improved venue "packed full."
“This is something very exciting for the city,” he said. “This particular plot of land has a lot of sports history associated with it. I, as a boy, came here for Grey Cup games and Argo games, and of course, the Blue Jays started here in the old [Exhibition] Stadium. And now it is going to go forward as a place for sporting activity of all kinds.”
Completed in two phases, the $150 million renovation of BMO Field saw a variety of improvements to every facet of the ground.
Bob Hunter, MLSE Chief Project Development Officer, relayed some of the challenges of the project. “It was a very tight schedule; we even lost two weeks when TFC made the playoffs–[not that I'm complaining]," he said. "We were fortunate with the weather because 90 percent of the work was done outdoors. A lot of brave souls out there in the middle of February.”
Timetables aside, Mr. Hunter anticipated the impact the additions will have on the atmosphere, noting that “bringing the canopy in, and bringing the energy level up is going to be a whole new experience.”
“[The] team was so excited when they came here to practice last night, they're looking forward to it,” said Bill Manning, TFC President. “[The players] are amped up to get out here and make everyone proud; it was a big investment that MLSE made.”
“It looks so much more massive now,” said Manning. “An authentic European stadium, where soccer has been over 100 years. The old stadium, while it was nice and intimate, this [one] is just massive. It's going to keep in the noise, which will amplify in the stadium. The fans here are phenomenal during the TFC games.”
Hunter, meanwhile, offered a friendly message for any team brave enough to enter the belly of this concrete-and-steel beast.
“You can't come into our house," he said, smiling, "and try and intimidate us."