Lots of room to north for Boatmen

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Thank God this U of T nonsense is over.

This whole story over whether a stadium would be built at Varsity had become nothing short of a soap opera, a latter-day Sherwood Schwarz saga.

Let's see now, first the Argos' new owners, David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, announced upon buying the team last fall they would be revealing plans for a new stadium complex the following spring but didn't identify a site.

Enter Maple Leaf Sports And Entertainment Ltd., headed by minority owner Larry Tanenbaum who wanted to build a multiple sports complex/shopping centre around Varsity. Suddenly Cynamon and Sokolowski had no choice but to watch as the Big Brother of the local professional sports scene exercised its political clout with U of T. MLSEL might have even bought a piece of the Argos.

And all along people were saying, what is MLSEL doing? Some suggested it was using U of T to acquire government funding, because an academic institution could have access to a public trough unavailable to a professional sports franchise.

MLSEL DROPS OUT

As the story played out, MLSEL president Richard Peddie dropped hints that the whole plan didn't make financial sense from a return-on-investment point of view.

Then MLSEL dropped out. And probably the happiest people were the ones who had plunked their savings into the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, a major financial supporter of MLSEL.

But the story didn't die there. The Argos, who never really said they were in partnership with the MLSEL, soldiered on with the support of the Canadian Soccer Association, poised to make a deal. The CSA didn't have the money to build a stadium but, similar to U of T, had an opportunity to receive government assistance as an amateur sports body.

When the deal was struck, it all seemed so glorious. The Argos would be coming back to Varsity after all these years and the CSA would have a new home to support the expanding soccer community.

But some of the selling points of the deal didn't make sense, including the idea there were 5,000 available parking spots. Have you tried parking your car around the Varsity perimeter lately? Can you imagine the actual number of spaces that there would have been for football games with the crowds reaching the 25,000 limit? If you think the prices for parking are outrageous now in and around the SkyDome, try to image what it would have been like around Varsity. The best mode of transportation would have been the subway. Not that that's a bad thing.

So now that Varsity is out of the picture, you have to think it will be either York University of Exhibition Place. Let's hope they find a site soon and end this game of Boardwalk.

The same people who were nostalgic about Varsity are probably dreaming of the good old days at the Ex. Had the stadium remained intact, the Ex might be a good place, but there are all kinds of issues there, including parking spaces owned by the city. A new stadium will cut into that.

Which leaves York as the place to be. Forget about the fact it's up in the north end of the city. Even if there's no subway mode -- at least not now -- there's parking and easy access from the highway.

I say build the stadium in the city above Toronto, the City of Vaughan. Well, not quite there but close to it. Hey, at least you won't have to worry about finding a parking space.


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