30,000 seat soccer stadium in works for Toronto
Soccer stadium in works
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun
The ruling international body of soccer has kickstarted plans for the possible building of a new stadium in Toronto by giving the Canadian Soccer Association a financial hand.
FIFA has just provided the Canadian Soccer Association with a $400,000 US grant to use towards plans for developing a 30,000-seat, natural grass stadium to be built in central Toronto. If everything goes as scheduled, the stadium would be complete no later than 2007.
The CSA already has put forth a bid for Canada to play host to the 2007 women's World Cup, including Toronto as a major complementary facility to Edmonton's Commonwealth Games, which has a seating capacity of some 60,000.
FIFA requires a minimum of four grass facilities, and Vancouver and Montreal each have stadiums that could accommodate seating for about 12,000-15,000. FIFA will announce the winning bid next year.
Kevan Pipe, the chief operating officer of the CSA, said Toronto was chosen because of the city's rich soccer history.
"You can't get away from it, it's five million people, it's the media capital of Canada, it's the corporate capital of Canada and we want to maintain our presence there in what hopefully would be a state-of-the-art facility," Pipe said.
Pipe said the CSA has identified central Toronto as its desire for a site, outlining the parameters as the Don Valley Parkway on east side, Hwy. 427 on the west side, Hwy. 401 on the north side and Lake Ontario on the south side.
He did not identify locations, but the areas which routinely come into play for stadium discussions are the old Downsview Air Force Base, Exhibition Stadium, York University and land near the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
"We've had very preliminary discussions with certain stakeholders, but to go beyond that word preliminary would be giving it way too much emphasis," Pipe said. "We now get into the discussions with architects, with consulting firms and with stakeholders who are the owners of land."
Pipe said the CSA has not had any contact with any sports which could become tenants.
"In the end I'm sure those discussions will occur, but this is not driven by the involvement of other sports," he said. "This is driven by the need that there is a gaping hole in our overall programming."
Pipe stressed the facility would not include a running track, nor would it be used in any way for baseball. He said it could be available for other rectangular-field sports.
"If the Argos want to be a part of it from a tenant viewpoint that's fine, but this is a soccer stadium," Pipe said. "It's being built for soccer. Soccer won't be a casual tenant."
Argos owner Sherwood Schwarz, who has been looking to build a new stadium possibly in time for the 2004 season, welcomed the CSA news.
"That's very interesting," he said. "It can only be positive. If we build it, they will come."