Silence, in the Argos' case, probably speaks volumes. Amid rumours that the CFL team is prepared to pull out of a York University stadium deal (for a proposed 25,000-seat venue) and extend its stay at the Rogers Centre, Argos owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon went underground yesterday and did not return calls.
While no announcement on the York decision was made yesterday -- as was speculated in one report -- the Argos did release a statement.
"We have been working diligently for the past several months with York University and the Canadian Soccer Association," the statement said. "This work has been conducted in an entirely business-like and professional manner, and has resulted in a credible and viable project that we believe would create a stadium at York on budget and on time. At this time, we have been offered a very attractive deal by the Rogers Centre which we are looking at very closely."
If the Argos choose to remain tenants at the Rogers Centre, it would be a dramatic about-face by Sokolowski and Cynamon, who said building a stadium was a main part of their plan when they purchased the team Nov. 5, 2003.
Just over two months ago, in fact, Cynamon seemed confident his team would not stop plans to build the York facility after Rogers Communications purchased the SkyDome and renamed it the Rogers Centre.
"Based on what we know today we're still going ahead with York. Absolutely." Cynamon told The Toronto Sun's Perry Lefko on Feb. 2. "If something dramatically changed, we'd reconsider it, but there's no sign of that."
Paul Godfrey, the president/CEO of the Rogers-owned Blue Jays, was tight-lipped yesterday.
"This is something between the Toronto Argonauts and York University," he said. "We have no deal with anyone at this point in time."
Sources say the 2007 Grey Cup, which was rumoured to be coming to Toronto to coincide with the opening of the York stadium, still might be played at the Rogers Centre.
The Argos were on the hook for $20 million of the $70-million York project. While Bud Purves, president of the York University Development Corp, denied a rumour that the deadline for the team to commit funding came and went yesterday, he said he needs an answer soon.
"(Yesterday) is too precise a word," Purves said. "(But) we have to go forward. There is a window here."
Though Canadian Soccer Association COO Kevan Pipe said he expects a York stadium to be ready for the 2007 world under-20 soccer championship with or without the Argos, the future of the stadium appears unclear.
"I can't say I can do it (without the Argos), " Purves said.
The Ontario government, which is supposed to chip in $8 million for the project, might have second thoughts if the Argos pull out.
"Until we find out exactly what's going on, we can't say whether the money will be there or not," said Kevin McKaye, a spokesman for Ontario's tourism and recreation ministry.
The federal government, which is slated to contribute $27 million, remains committed to the stadium.
"Our deal and our arrangement was with York University so it has nothing to do with the Toronto Argonauts," Immigration Minister Joe Volpe said.
York is on the hook for the remaining $15 million.