In today's meeting between Aron Winter, Earl Cochrane, and members of the media it was made clear that the former Skydome is still a potential venue for the clubs quarterfinal match in the CONCACAF Champions League. The game will take place in early March (6-8th is the window) so for TFC management the question has to be raised of what makes the most sense for the club. Renting the dome would come with a fairly large price tag along with the cost of bringing in grass, likely from the southern United States, to make it a viable option for the club. The alternative would be a potentially snowy and freezing cold game exposed to the elements down by the lake at BMO Field. That game would avoid the cost of renting the facility but the issue arises of just how much it would cost to get the field ready at that time of the year. The field at BMO would likely cost over $100k per day to keep unfrozen and in playing condition but playing a game on it at that time of the year could also have negative effects on the quality of the playing surface going forward. Either way we can expect a decision from the club about where the game will take place in the days following the November 8th draw.Toronto FC will find out who their opponent will be in the CCL quarterfinals on the 8th in a draw that will take place at the CONCACAF offices so you will have to keep your eyes peeled for who TFC are drawn with since it will likely take place with very little fanfare from the governing body. TFC will host the first leg of this tie regardless of who they are drawn with and it will be in that previously mentioned window in the first week of March. Whatever day the game is played on and whoever TFC draws (LA Galaxy, Santos Laguna, or Monterrey) the next big question that will have to be answered is where the game will take place.
Regardless of what the logistical problems are for either venue the opinion seems to be split almost down the middle for TFC fans. In the poll we conducted after the FC Dallas match it was made clear that we could hardly separate the two choices with only a couple of votes between them. That said the one feeling that I have gotten from fans is that wherever this match is going to be played the number one priority for TFC management is going to be making sure it has a good crowd. If it is BMO in early March then the price tag needs to be right so that this match gets better attendance then any of the group stage matches this season. That will mean building up the excitement and maybe considering lowering the prices to a better point as anything less then a sellout of BMO for this game would represent a failure on their part. If the game goes to the Rogers Centre then the issue of attendance becomes an even bigger problem.
In case you have never been to any sort of sporting event in Toronto's dome the first thing you need to realize is that if you took the 22k that BMO field holds and put them in Rogers it would be terrible. The dome is cavernous and holds 54k for American football. I have been to many Jays games and unless they get at least 30k in attendance it seems dead in the building for the most part. I have never been there for a soccer match thus far since most times the price point was just not right for me or other logistical reasons. I would suspect though that the atmosphere would be similarly dependent on having a large crowd for those games.
The best example of what the club could do if they decide to go to the Dome comes from the Montreal Impact who managed to get over 50k in attendance when they reached this stage back in 2009. They did that when they were playing in the USL so it is not that far fetched to think that TFC could do the same if they wanted to. To do that though they would have to set ticket prices at a very low point and that just does not seem like the MLSE way. They will probably end up choosing the venue that lets them make the most money and then price it to put profits ahead of getting the right atmosphere. I hope they prove me wrong though.
What was made clear today was that we should have all the details on this match in the coming weeks, the opponent on the 8th, and the venue some time after that. We will keep you up to date on the whole process and let you know when we can all get our tickets!