As if there weren't enough already, another unsuccessful team looks to be calling BMO Field home in 2017, at least for one game. As part of their centennial season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have requested to be the hosts of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic.
Toronto Sports writer Howard Berger is reporting that the game, which not confirmed, would be played between the home town Maple Leafs and visiting New York Rangers at BMO Field. The soccer stadium has long been rumoured as a Winter Classic host, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman even saying BMO Field would be the venue if an outdoor game was hosted in Toronto.
This would be the first time that the Winter Classic is hosted outside of the United States. The Maple Leafs participated in the 2014 Winter Classic, which was played at the University of Michigan's Big House football stadium.
Hosting a Winter Classic was also part of the expansion plan for BMO Field, with Phase 2 set to be complete at some point next summer. While the soccer facilities at the stadium were to be augmented, it would also become an option for MLSE to host marquee sporting events.
In October it was announced that the 2016 Grey Cup will be hosted at BMO Field, which will be expanded to host the event. An additional 10,000 removable seats are expected to be added to the venue for that event, and the same would likely be done for a Winter Classic.
In conjunction with the field becoming the home for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. This move has been controversial, as the Argos could interfere both with Toronto's field and their scheduling for the upcoming season.
The Winter Classic certainly wouldn't have either of these drawbacks. It would be played well in advance of Toronto FC's season, which usually kicks off in late March. That would still give the groundskeepers plenty of time to ready the field in time for the club's home opener.
Scheduling also likely wouldn't be an issue, as the Vancouver Whitecaps have Canada's spot in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League. At any rate, should a CONCACAF Champions League match be played during that time it would mean the club once again plays at the Rogers Centre.
The only obvious drawback to hosting at BMO Field would be the temperature, something that hardly seems like a problem with this year's record mild winter. Towards the start and end of the Major League Soccer season BMO Field is incredibly frigid owing to its open air concept and being close to Lake Ontario.