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BMO Field 101: Toronto FC's stadium set to host MLS Cup after facelift

Toronto FC will make their inaugural appearance in MLS Cup on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders (8 pm ET; FOX and UniMas in the US, TSN1/3/4/5 and RDS in Canada), but this isn’t BMO Field’s first time hosting the league’s title tilt.

TFC’s home stadium hosted MLS Cup 2010, which saw the Colorado Rapids edge out FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time. Read on for more on the history of the nine-year-old facility:

When was it constructed?

Construction began on BMO Field in March 2006, and the facility debuted on April 28, 2007 for the first home match in Toronto FC history, a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards.

The stadium, which is owned by the City of Toronto and managed by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, sits in Toronto’s Exhibition Place, and is the fifth stadium to be built at its exact location. Exhibition Stadium was the last stadium to sit on the site prior to the construction of BMO Field, it served as the home for MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts until both teams moved to the SkyDome in 1989.

Capacity

Capacity at BMO Field for Toronto FC matches is normally 30,000, but can be expanded to up to 36,000 with temporary seating. The record for largest crowd at a soccer match in BMO Field history was set when TFC drew 36,000 for the second leg of their recent Eastern Conference Championship series victory against the Montreal Impact.

Playing surface

At the time of its opening, BMO Field used a FieldTurf surface rather than a natural grass field. The switch to a natural surface was made prior to the 2010 season, with TFC tearing out the artificial surface and replacing it with a variety of Kentucky Bluegrass.

Major events

In addition to MLS Cup 2010, BMO Field has hosted a variety of big-time events over the years. The stadium hosted nine matches, including the final, at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup, the 2008 MLS All-Star Game, seven matches at the 2014 Women’s U-20 World Cup and a pair of matches in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Canadian men’s national team regularly holds their home matches in the city, though the team played their recent CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers at B.C. Place in Vancouver. BMO Field has also hosted several major rugby matches, began serving as home for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 2016 and hosted the Grey Cup – the CFL’s Super Bowl – last month.

Renovations

BMO Field has undergone several renovations since opening in 2007, the first of which came ahead of the 2010 season when, in addition to switching to a natural playing surface, TFC added 1,400 seats to the north end of the stadium.

A major, two-phase renovation began following the 2014 season and was completed in the spring of 2016. The first phase was completed in May 2015 and added an upper level to the east grandstand, expanding the stadium’s capacity to roughly 30,000. The second phase was completed this May, with a canopy now covering all seats except those in the north end, which was reconfigured in order to make room for the CFL’s larger playing surface.