Published on April 22, 2008 10:19 PM by dbo.
Casual talk that the Toronto Argonauts would play their 2008 exhibition game at the outdoor BMO Field in June have been put to rest by the club president Michael Clemons. The idea of the Argos moving to the city-owned (and MLSE managed) outdoor facility has been floated by a number of public officials unassociated with the Argos in the past year. The benefits seen in such a move is providing a outdoor stadium with a more intimate setting for the Argo crowds than the current home, Rogers Centre. An exhibition game at the stadium would be used to gauge fan interest and possibly speed along BMO Field expansion plans.
For any Argo plan to move home stadiums, though, it appears the horse will need to come before the cart. BMO Field lacks a CFL regulation field size (with reports than end zone stands will have to be demolished to accommodate the field) and capacity for the Argos to play there. In 2007 the Argos averaged 31,000 fans at Rogers Centre, so BMO Field would have to be expanded 10-15,000 seats from the current 20,000 person capacity to accommodate their crowds. The stadium may have been built to allow the expansion of another 10,000 seats (which the current tenants, the Toronto FC, may soon need), but that may be short of the capacity the Toronto Argonauts need to grow their revenues enough to continue to be viable.
While an alternative, it is an expensive one at $20 million whether incurred by the public or the Argos. Right now it does not make sense for the Argos to consider, even for an exhibition game. The local owners have made great inroads in expanding their fan base, to the point now where they are averaging over 50% of capacity. Argo owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon will continue to want to grow what they have started, and Rogers Centre provides a place where they can do that. There is no reason to believe that they will not do so.