Following in the footsteps of the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays, Toronto FC will call Florida home for at least the first part of the 2021 season.
While the team are still finalizing an exact location, president Bill Manning confirmed to Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun that the team would set up shop in the sunshine state for the start of the 2021 MLS season, which begins April 17. Previous reports have indicated that the team has been looking at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as one option.
The state also has two MLS sides, Inter Miami and Orlando City SC, with whom the reds could theoretically ground share. Waking the Red has been told that Orlando’s Exploria Stadium is another option that the team is investigating. The venue has hosted several competitions of late, including the 2021 SheBelieves Cup and 2020 Concacaf Champions League knockout rounds.
The team also played four games in Orlando last season as part of the MLS is Back bubble at ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. After a few inter-Canadian games at BMO Field, the Reds spent the rest of the season playing out of Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The word out of Toronto FC camp, however, was that the players did not (always) particularly enjoy their time in Connecticut.
#TFCLive president Bill Manning confirmed that the club will open up the 2021 #MLS regular season in Florida. They have yet to confirm exactly where, but Tampa, where the #Raptors are, is being considered. Taking families will be an option for the players.— steve buffery (@Beezersun) February 19, 2021
Whichever location in Florida the club ultimately chooses, expect Toronto FC II to be based nearby. TFCII did not participate in the 2020 USL League One campaign due to Covid travel restrictions. Waking the Red believes they will be back this upcoming season, potentially calling multiple locations in the United States home.
This is good news for the team’s youngsters, many of whom had to be loaned out to various clubs throughout North America and Europe to get playing time. Others stayed in camp with the senior team in East Hartford.
Manning has been clear that he hopes the club can return to BMO Field at some point in the upcoming season. However, current travel restrictions set in place by the Canadian government make that an impossibility for the time being.
Toronto FC began training camp on Wednesday at the BMO Training Grounds in Toronto as the team prepares for the Canadian Championship Final, expected to take place mid-to-late March. According to the club, TFC will likely remain in Toronto for the duration of preseason before making the move down to Florida before the start of the MLS campaign.
Buffery also revealed that the club is also looking into a way to give families the option to join players down south for the first part of the year.