Last week we were told by Toronto FC executive Paul Beirne that we would know the location for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal game against LA Galaxy by today at the latest. This morning before most people were even up Paul tweeted that there would be no news today and gave no suggestion this time when we might get it. The silence of Toronto FC says a fair bit in my opinion and is a clear suggestion that the venue is going to be the Rogers Centre.
As of last week the team were reportedly just working on crossing the T's and dotting the I's so to speak but that seems to be taking longer then expected. If the game was going to be played at BMO field, a venue the team has full control over, this process would really not take as long. The issues with playing at BMO Field all revolve around making it more resistant to cold weather and ensuring they could safely and smoothly host a game in the potential cold and snow of March. Having had weeks to look in to all of that, there is a lot less of a logistical headache in staying at home in BMO. To me a game at BMO could have been announced long ago if the team decided it was something they could make work.
A game at Rogers Centre on the other hand comes with a lot of logistical headaches and hurdles that the club would have to clear. So it seems more likely that with the delay in the announcement this is where we will be heading come March. The biggest hurdle to overcome is that the club does not own the venue and would have had to work out an agreement with Rogers over the use of the facility. Another hurdle in the process would be the fact that the club would have to arrange to have a natural grass playing surface brought in for the match to be played on. Both of these steps would take a lot of time and effort on the part of the Toronto FC front office to get sorted out which would be a good explanation of all the delays.
The last potential complication in all of this is the fact that the size of playing field that CONCACAF requires for this sort of game may not actually fit in to the stadium properly. The venue has previously held soccer games but they were only friendlies so the standards are more relaxed. I tried to look in to this more but the folks at the Rogers Centre assured me that a field of at least 64m x 100m would fit. Those dimensions are the minimum that is allowed for a match like this but when you consider that when the Argos play their home games in the Dome their field dimensions are 59.436m x 137.16m. So the length is not going to be an issue but if they want to fit the proper width of a field to even meet the minimum standard that is going to be a bit of a tough ask.
If you have ever watched a CFL game at the Dome you will know that the sidelines do have a fair bit of space on them so finding that extra five meters or so that would be needed is not impossible but this would be just one more hassle that Toronto FC would have to deal with if they are heading to the Dome. BMO Field is only 68m x105m which is barely above the minimum so at least a narrow field at Rogers would not take much adjusting on the part of TFC players.
In the end I think the staff are still working hard to sort this all out and we will be heading to Rogers come March. That said each day that is taken up crossing the T's is one less day for the club to promote the game and sell tickets. If they are going to the Dome selling 50,000 tickets or anything near that will be a massive undertaking and one that should be started as soon as possible.
But hey, maybe I am reading to much in to this delay but let me know what you think of it all.