Inside the CFL: A new stadium for Regina has Toronto thinkingJul 18, 2012 - 5:02 PM Hamilton ON (Sports Network) - The announcement was made on national television, just before the start of the game between Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions, at Mosaic Stadium in Regina last Saturday.
The reverberations were felt in southern Ontario.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall told the sold-out crowd that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been reached for a new stadium that will be built in Regina, and should be ready in early 2017.
"The current stadium has served us well for the past 100 years," Wall said. "But it's time the best fans in Canada and the best team in Canada have the best, new stadium in Canada. The new stadium will not only provide a leading edge facility for the Riders, it will also support amateur sports in the province and attract the attention of major concert and event promoters."
The state-of-the-art facility will hold about 33,000 people with a spectator roof and open-air playing surface. The facility will be expandable so that it can host larger events such as a Grey Cup.
Funding for the anticipated $278 million cost will be come from an $80 million grant provided by the Government of Saskatchewan paid over four years, $73 million through City of Regina funding, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders leading a process to accumulate $25 million.? In addition, the province will provide $100 million in financing to the City of Regina.
Watching the announcement with great interest was Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who then made his way to Hamilton, to take in the game between the Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts.
In an exclusive interview with Inside the CFL, Ford congratulated the city of Regina and the province of Saskatchewan, then added, perhaps it's time to look for a new home for the Argonauts.
"I think we need a stadium, a venue,"Ford said. "Rogers Center with 55- thousand seats is going to be pretty hard to fill (for the Argos.) The Grey Cup is sold out, but hopefully we can get a stadium."
The obvious question became, if the Argos leave Rogers Center, where will they play?
"There's a number of questions" said Ford. "We have Downsview, (a huge park in North Toronto, that contains about 320 acres and used to house a former Canadian Forces Base) we have Woodbine (a combination racetrack and casino off Highway 427, near Pearson International Airport) so we have locations to build a new stadium, or, we retrofit BMO Field, and make it like McGill Stadium in Montreal, a 25-thousand seat stadium. We can do it, obviously the partners have to work together to do it."
It's ironic that Ford mentioned BMO Field, because before the stadium was opened in April 2007, there was talk that the Argonauts would also become a tenant at the open-air stadium, which can seat up to 21,140 spectators, depending on seating configurations. The stadium is a soccer-only facility right now, used by Toronto FC of the MLS as well as other international tournaments.
As it currently stands, BMO Field can fit a 100-yard field with 15-yard end zones or a 110-yard field with 10-yard end zones. A standard CFL field, is 110-yards from goal line to goal line, with 20-yard end zones.
No one as of yet, has spoken up about the issue of financing.
"I really hope the Premier (Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty) gets on board, and supports building a stadium in Toronto, but I understand he's in a situation. What he does in Toronto he has to do in Hamilton. It's a different situation in Saskatchewan," Ford said.
It the Argos do, in fact leave Rogers Center, a retrofit of BMO appears to be the easiest, and most financially prudent route to take.
- Grey Cup a winner.
Ford says the 100th Grey Cup, to be played at Rogers Center on November 25, as well as the week's activities, will be a huge success in Toronto.
"We'll have a zip line going from City Hall across Queen Street, and that's just a start,"he said. "It's going to be a huge party and even if people can't get tickets to the game, because it is sold out, we encourage everyone to visit Toronto. We want to keep as much activity as we can downtown, close to the Rogers Center and the hotels."
An event like the Grey Cup, always means a financial windfall for the host city, and the centennial celebration in Toronto, means the economic impact will be massive.
"It's hard to put a price tag on it right now, but if you include all the hotel stays, the tourism, the jobs created, it's hundreds of millions of dollars."
-A second champion will be crowned.
The 48th Vanier Cup will be held during the historic 100th Grey Cup Festival. The best teams in Canadian university football will go head-to-head on Friday, November 23, 2012 at Rogers Center in Toronto with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Fans who purchased tickets in the Double Blue sections to the now sold out Grey Cup Championship will be rewarded with their same seats to the Vanier Cup game. The last time the Vanier Cup was played in Toronto was 2007, in front of a crowd of 26,787. The all-time Vanier Cup attendance record is 32,847, set back in 1989, the first year of the Skydome (now known as Rogers Centre.)
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
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