TORONTO, Canada—It appears as though the BMO Field homecoming may have to wait a little bit longer.
According to a report Wednesday afternoon from 680 News, a government source has informed them that a final decision on whether or not TFC can welcome teams from across the border to host games at BMO Field is not expected this week.
Toronto FC were hoping to host Saturday’s match against Orlando City SC along the Lakeshore, however, the Public Healthy Agency has yet to give the green light on whether or not the suggestions in the proposal address all health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, if TFC do get the go-ahead from the Public Health Agency, then the Immigration Minister still has to review the plans and may discuss them with cabinet before any final decisions are made. With Saturday’s home match just three days away and considering all of the hurdles that this proposal still needs to pass through, it’s tough to imagine that this weekend’s contest gets played on Canadian soil.
The biggest hurdle has nothing to do with getting fans back in the stadium. In fact, according to sources, TFC were prepared to play Saturday’s match without any fans should it come to that. The provincial government in Ontario have released guidelines that would permit fans at a limited capacity back into outdoor sporting stadiums.
The issue resides on Canada’s border remaining closed to non-essential travelers. An exception was made during the NHL Playoffs which allowed the Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning to travel across the border and play games in Montreal, however, TFC or the Toronto Blue Jays are not being given the same exemption. The biggest reason for that is because opening the borders during the regular season means that several teams would be given permission to cross the border, as opposed to just two as was the case during the NHL playoffs.
For what it’s worth, Toronto FC President Bill Manning, who was very optimistic about getting approval to host matches at BMO Field by this weekend, has been on record stating TFC do have a backup plan should the team not be given permission. Those details have yet to be disclosed.
I’d recommend waiting until we hear official word from the team or Canadian government on the matter before ruling out the possibility of TFC playing at home on Saturday.