Stadium blues

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

The owners of the Argonauts have a question for the City of Toronto: What's the deal with the latest Exhibition Stadium plans?

Howard Sokolowski said he and his partner, David Cynamon, are curious about the deal the city has struck with the the Canadian Soccer Association and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., for a 20,000-seat stadium at Exhibition Place.

The Argos had gone to the City of Toronto, in particular Mayor David Miller, after Sokolowski and Cynamon purchased the team in 2003 about potentially building a 25,000-seat stadium at the Ex. A deal never materialized.

"I'm curious to hear what the deal points are (with the CSA/MLSEL project) and how they would have differed from ours," Sokolowski said yesterday. "In principle it's a good thing to have a stadium there. I just don't know the financial elements of the deal. I look forward to hearing them."

According to reports, the CSA and MLSEL plan to build a 20,000-seat stadium that will cost $62.8 million.

The overall financial breakdown will consist of $27 million from the federal government, $8 million from the province and the city contributing $9.8 million. MLSEL will add $8 million and provide another $10 million from the sale of the stadium's naming rights.

While MLSEL is slated to pay $250,000 for any operating shortfalls, the city/Exhibition Place board and MLSEL would share equally in funding any annual operating shortfalls or annual shortfalls in expenditures.

The Argos switched from the Ex project to a proposal at the University of Toronto's main campus along Bloor Street, but the project collapsed when the school opted out. The Argos then shifted their focus to York University's main campus, but cancelled their plans when they decided to stay at their current location after Rogers Communications bought the SkyDome and spent a considerable sum to upgrade the facility.

If the Ex project goes ahead, Sokolowski did not rule out the Argos moving to that location at some point. The Argos played at the Ex for almost 30 years before moving to their current location in 1989, back when the facility was known as the SkyDome.

The Argos are completing the first year of a 15-year lease, which has five-year options.

"We're very happy at the Rogers Centre," Sokolowski said. "They've made some necessary and wonderful improvements and I know Rogers are will be spending millions of dollars this coming off-season to improve it further. But I never rule anything out."


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