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Toronto FC President Bill Manning addresses potential BMO Field expansion

Manning announced plans to expand BMO Field ahead of the 2026 World Cup, as well as a timeline for introducing south-end safe standing.

MLS: MLS CUP-Toronto FC Champions Parade Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC president Bill Manning invited fans to his President’s Breakfast last Friday, unveiling the 2018 alternate kit (which you can see here) and discussing topics including the potential expansion at BMO Field with GM Tim Bezbatchenko.

BMO Field Expansion

Canada, the USA and Mexico have made a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. FIFA rules state that all host stadiums must have a minimum capacity of 40,000, which BMO Field does not, so if Toronto wishes to host any of those potential World Cup games, they’ll have to increase the capacity from 30,000 to the 40,000 requirement.

Manning acknowledged that the team spent “well over $100 million” during the last renovations, which took place in two stages between the end of 2014 and the beginning of the 2016 seasons. He also acknowledged, though, that the stadium is regularly sold out, meaning that if they expand, they will likely sell even more tickets, thus bringing in more money and providing a better atmosphere in the stands. They already have around 25,000 season ticket-holders and Manning expects most of the games this season to be sold out. An incredible 98.2% of season ticket-holders have renewed their seats for 2018.

Manning said that they don’t want to “add another 10,000 seats and have them empty,” so they will likely do renovations in smaller stages like the previous work, starting with the north grandstand. With the Toronto Argonauts also playing at BMO Field, any changes would have to be made with their north endzone in mind. After the 2015 season, seats at the north end of the pitch were removed in order to make room for the endzone so any renovations would need to accommodate their needs as well.

Safe Standing in the South End

Bill Manning also revealed that the club is looking to bring safe standing to the supporters’ section of BMO Field. This is what he had to say about the topic:

“There’s a big cost to that. We still have to have seats because of a FIFA mandate; they’re going to have to fold up. So we’re probably going to do it in phases: the first five rows and then go up from there.”

Manning aims to start the process of incorporating safe standing into BMO Field in 2019.

The President’s Breakfast event was a perfect way to start the season and confirmed to Toronto FC fans that they have the right two men leading their club off the pitch to go along with an incredible team on it.