The future of the Toronto Lynx organization remains up in the air as they await the verdict from the City of Hamilton regarding their proposed move from Toronto to Hamilton that would see them joining USL Pro, partnering with Toronto FC, and playing at the new Tim Horton's Field.
The Lynx organization initially reached out to the City of Hamilton in a letter from President Alain Theroux which was dated the 10th of July. Along with that letter they submitted correspondence from a number of interested parties including Toronto FC, the United Soccer Leagues, the Canadian Soccer Association, and the Ontario Soccer Association, as well as investors.
That letter went before City council on August 16th but no decision was made on it at that time. Instead, the official minutes from council state that the item should, "Be referred to the General Manager of Public Works for a report back to the Public Works Committee."
The request remains with the Public Works Committee and at their most recent meeting on September 16th it was included under "Outstanding Business". There is a timeline for them to make a decision though as the deadline for the GM to report back to the committee is set for their meeting on October 21st. That means it will not be on the agenda for the City Council meeting on September 25th but will have to wait until the following month at the earliest.
That meeting on October 21st could begin an important three day stretch for the Lynx organization as it is followed by the full council meeting on the 23rd. If there are no delays in the process it is possible that the City of Hamilton will reach a decision regarding the soccer club's request at that meeting on the 23rd.
The 23rd of October seems to be the soonest that the Lynx could see their fate resolved. There is also a chance that it will drag out beyond that date though depending on what the Council decides to do with the report they get from the Public Works Committee.
There is a chance that the decision will then be passed on to the Pan Am Stadium Precinct Sub-Committee. That committee is charged with providing advice, input and support for the new Pan Am stadium throughout the construction process. They meet on a monthly basis, normally the day before City Council meets, which means they will meet on October 22nd but after that they do not have any further scheduled meetings until the new year.
Hopefully for the sake of having things in place in time for the 2014 season City Council will make a decision regarding the request from the Toronto Lynx on October 23rd so they can begin to move forward with working on the details of the move including agreeing on a lease for the use of Tim Horton's Field and a plan for where they will play until the stadium is open and during the Pan-Am Games.
For now the Lynx future is up in the air but for those concerned about how things will work out it is worth noting that one of the key pieces of the plan for the Pan-Am stadium in the city was to attract soccer to the city. Tim Horton's Field will primarily be home to the Hamilton Tiger Cats but it was never intended to be solely for their use.
It was initially thought that the group that owe the Tiger Cats, lead by Bob Young, would bring an NASL franchise to the city of Hamilton to help fulfill that mandate. It seemed that Young was close to bringing team to the city and the new stadium and as recently as this summer he was talking about some potential for an expansion franchise coming to the city.
Young is not exactly a well loved figure in NASL circles though for the way that he left the Carolina Railhawks. He was part of the club's ownership group but he left them behind in a poor financial state leaving others to deal with the mess.
One things seems clear, Tim Hortons field will be home to professional soccer in one form or another. That was part of the mandate for the stadium and should be fulfilled in the coming months. If it is not Bob Young and his ownership group filling that void then it could very well be the Toronto Lynx.
The meetings on October 21st and October 23rd at Council Chambers will go a long ways towards shaping the future of soccer in Hamilton. Toronto FC will be hoping for good news otherwise they may be left having to scramble to find a new partner in the USL for the 2014 season.
The Toronto FC side of things is that they will be counting on the Lynx moving to Hamilton and moving up to USL Pro so that they can have a partner in the reserve league. With so much talk about needing to find more playing time for young players like Kyle Bekker, Emery Welshman, Quillan Roberts, and Manual Aparicio having that partnership in place will be key. Just look at Sporting Kansas City and what their partnership with Orlando City has done for the likes of Dom Dwyer and C.J. Sapong.
For now the interested parties will have to wait and see what the City of Hamilton decides but the good news is that there could be an answer as soon as October 23rd that could allow the franchise to move forward with their move from Hamilton to Toronto.