Toronto FC's home opener was announced on Tuesday as taking place on March 9th against Sporting Kansas City. The location was shown as TBD, but it seems practically a given that it's going to be at the Rogers Centre.
My initial reaction to the date early enough to confirm that the climate controlled domey goodness would be needed was just a straight forward ugh. Just winterise BMO Field already, yeah it might be cold and snowy but whatever, we'd all survive, BMO's home, we shouldn't ever be playing home games elsewhere unless we absolutely have to.
Of course the fact is that BMO isn't winterised, so playing a game there in early March isn't currently plausible. Another fact is that a long road trip to start the season off until it's late enough to reliably play at BMO would be a terrible idea. It's already going to be a tough start to the season in terms of winning, maintaining any kind of positive atmosphere and keeping the fans on board, minimising the chances of a big losing streak to start the season is undeniably a good thing.
So yeah, I suppose it has to be done and we'll just have to deal with the problems it brings up. For supporters, there's the logistical issues of who gets tickets to which section, after all season ticket holders have already paid for this game, does a light grey cheap seat translate into a crappy 500 section seat, do only people with South End tickets get to go in whatever gets designated the supporters section?
The most important problem of course is that, when combined with the game in Vancouver to open the season and the game the following week in Montreal, that's 3 plastic pitches in a row, which certainly doesn't sound all that conducive to avoiding injuries for old man Frings et al.
The main thing that makes me go ugh though is the sneaking little extra bit of confirmation of the worst fears of my inner (Inner? Ha!) MLSE distrusting grumpy old fan. Last December when Bell and Rogers took over MLSE, and thus TFC, alarm bells rang in my head that now the Rogers Centre was under the same cozy corporate umbrella, that we'd start seeing TFC play there on a regular basis, with all the 'special event' hype and distraction that would bring. We did of course get the Liverpool friendly last year, which I have 0 doubt will be the first of many such games in the future, and which I'll happily remain thoroughly disgusted at and continue to think of as an unnecessary cash grab that actually hurts more than it helps.
The CCL game last March, well that was different, again there were the cold weather problems that meant it probably did have to be played there, and the hype and promotion leading to that event was genuine and deserved. It was a big game, that actually mattered, that the team earned through qualifying the previous year. I in no way resented the hoopla about the game in the months leading up to it, the sense of occasion, combined with the weather issues totally justified the move.
In the back of my mind though, after it turned out to be a successful event was the thought - 'They're probably going to want to do this every year aren't they? Start the season off with a bang and a big game at the dome to generate some buzz.' And now here we are (presumably).
Now I'm clearly getting way ahead of myself here, it's probably best to not get too worked up about something that hasn't actually happened yet. Even if the game is at the dome, maybe they won't try and present this is as some kind of big occasion, any more so than any other home opener over the years. The fact that the game's against Kansas City, and thus pretty hype proof rather than say against Montreal is a good sign that that may be the case.
So take this as a plea rather than a rant. Please winterise BMO Field so you don't have to do this every year. If you can't do that, and do have to play there, don't try and present it as something bigger than it actually is. At the very least don't make a fuss until you have a team that's actually worth making a fuss over (yes, yes I know, I blog endlessly about this team that's not worth a fuss, I'm aware and self hatey enough thanks). Don't make me resent the fact that I support TFC, like I already resent supporting the Leafs.
Basically, don't play any more than you absolutely have to at the dome, treat it as a weather related necessity, not some corporate synergy marketing opportunity kind of thing. Please. Thanks.