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training facility, grass & stadium expansion
December 5, 2008, 3:51 PM
Filed under: Rumor, Toronto FC

With a season ticket waiting list at more than 13,000, Toronto FC is eyeing stadium expansion but not in the immediate future.

“We’re thinking about a bunch of different things right now,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and CEO for Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. “We’re thinking about a proper training facility . . . we’re long-term interested into putting grass in BMO Field.”

Switching from FieldTurf to real grass would require the approval of the city, which owns the facility, and the province, which helped fund it. BMO Field is used as a community facility and the Major League Soccer franchise would have to come up with an alternate area for year-round public use if it went to grass.

As to the 20,000-seat stadium on the Toronto lakefront, Anselmi says eventual expansion is a no-brainer.

“We’ve thought about expanding the stadium. Now is not the right time. But at some point,” he said Thursday evening at the unveiling of the team’s new jersey. “If you’re still in a place where you’ve got 20,000 every night and 13,000 on a wait list, obviously it’s something we’re going to have to look at some point.

“We’re really really bullish on where this can go. We think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

Stadium plans initially called for a 30,000-seat venue with a price tag of $81.2 million. That was eventually scaled down to 20,000 seats and $62.9 million.

MLSE paid out $18 million and another US$10 million on the MLS expansion franchise fee, recouping some of that cost via the stadium naming rights.

Season tickets have been capped at 16,000 for the 2009 season, the same as this year (up from 14,000 the inaugural season in 2007). So far, the renewal rate is slightly above 95 per cent, according to the team.

As for the issue of a marquee or designated player, Anselmi says director of football Mo Johnston is always looking for new talent.

“I wouldn’t say the search is on (for a designated player). I’d say the search has always been on for the best players out there. Mo has the ability to bring a DP forward if wants to and if he’s got the right guy at the right time and the right price. And then we look at it, for sure. We can do that. Having a DP slot is an asset. We’ve been saying from the get-go we wanted to build this right and that’s by doing it with the core, start with the core and then add on.

“But if the right guy at the right time is the right piece to help make us that much better, then Mo absolutely can bring that forward.”

Source: Click Here

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