BMO Field expansion. Public Meeting, March 5th

Want the chance to get input into what this might look like next year? Here you go. - Claus Andersen

Feel like yelling into the internet isn't effective? Here's your chance to voice your concerns in person.

Tim Leiweke loves to hear himself talk, this we know. Tim Leiweke actually delivers on his big talk, again this we know. So far that's brought all sorts of shiny new players to our team, a new 'why can't we be great' attitude and genuine hopes of seriously competing this year, all hail Big Tim.

Less happily, another thing he won't stop talking about is bringing the Argonauts to BMO Field. There's been enough mentions of it and the expansion of the stadium and how amazing it's going to be that it seems a bit like a fait accompli. But it isn't (obviously yes it is, this is happening, but...) the stadium expansion still requires approval from the Exhibition Place board and City Council.

As part of that process, there's a public meeting of the Exhibition Place Community Liaison Committee happening on March 5th at 7pm, and you're invited.

Here's the full notice detailing what it's about. Basically, the possibilities of expanding to 30,000 and of the Argos moving in were included in the initial plans, MLSE wants to move the Argos in, and has been in discussions with the City Manager and now there's an urgency to get it done before the Pan Am games in 2015*. The notice specifically mentions Community input and hearing the concerns of the public and that "Any issues raised by the community can then be reported to the meetings of both the Board and City Council on this matter and fed into the design and planning approval process undertaken by MLSE and City Planning".

*As per this article from the Toronto Star, this is presumably concerning phase one, the expansion, with phase two, the roof to come later.

If you want to go, here's an invite via Councillor Mike Layton. There's a number to RSVP and if you're driving, then print it out to get free parking.

So, if you feel passionately about this issue (on either side of the debate), here's your chance to speak your mind to those who'll actually be making the decision, as opposed to simply venting into the internet. Your chance to say a few years from now, when we're all miserably sitting watching TFC play over CFL lines and giant Toronto Sun ads "I went and did my bit, I stood up and told them what I thought, what did you bastards do?"

The idealist in me would like to think that would make a difference, but I'm sure this is merely a PR exercise, the decision already a formality, MLSE's cash and influence meaning a lot more than any angry mob would. But even looking at it that cynically, there's a lot of interesting info that potentially could come out.

First up, the plans. Will we get to see an official design for the new bigger BMO Field to let people know exactly what they're arguing for or against?

Secondly, the money. Will details come out of how much various levels of government (ie you, dear taxpayer) might be on the hook for, or how much MLSE is funding from it's own (ie yours, dear season seat holder) pockets? The Star article linked above had Leiweke suggesting the city would get it's money back 'over a period of time'. Is that going to come from increased revenues from all the extra games, or would MLSE themselves be paying that money back?

So, at the least there should be some interesting info that will allow future debates about this to be more informed, as well as a chance to make your opinion known, and maybe, just maybe, the chance to have an effect on what does and doesn't end up happening.  See you there.

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