York plan in pieces

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

The collapse of the York University stadium project yesterday had various parties scrambling to picking up the pieces.

- The Canadian Soccer Association was left with no Toronto venue for the 2007 world youth championship, meaning Edmonton and Montreal likely will have expanded roles for the 24-team, under-20 mens tournament.

- Plans to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Toronto will have to be "re-assessed," Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd., president Richard Peddie said last night.

- Bruno Hartrell, owner of the United Soccer League's Toronto Lynx, had hoped to use the facility as his team's new home and blamed the CSA for not having a tangible Plan B.

- The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced they would examine the possibility of hosting some games for the FIFA-sponsored tournament, while Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said he would be willing to talk about potentially holding matches at the Rogers Centre.

Just two weeks after the Toronto Argos abandoned plans to be part of the proposed 25,000-seat football-soccer facility, York yesterday announced that the endeavour had officially been scrapped. The CFL team was to have invested $20 million into the $70 million venue, but opted for a better deal that will keep them at the Rogers Centre.

About $35 million in government funding and another $15 million from York was still on the table. But with the Argos money no longer available, the university said there was not enough time to make the necessary alterations in stadium design in order to meet upcoming deadlines.

"We don't have a design, we don't have a detailed costing. We don't even have an architect at this point. And we're now two years away from having to be open," university vice-president Gary Brewer said, adding that road improvements and a building demolition would need to start next month.

"And once we start that work, literally within three weeks, we would have been on the hook for about $5 million."

The Argos insist they are not to blame.

"They (still) had $50 million to build a 15,000-17,000-seat stadium and they could have done that," Argos co-owner Howard Sokolowski said. "To suggest we are the sole reason that stadium is not being built is not fair."

CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe was not a happy man, especially after guaranteeing last week that the project was a go.

"We're shocked," Pipe said.

Even if the CSA could work out a deal with the Rogers Centre, only a handful of games likely could be played there, if any, because the tournament comes during Blue Jays season.

"My door is open to discussion," Godfrey said. "I've stated in the past that the Rogers Centre is a great centre for soccer, especially now that FIFA has approved Field Turf."

Peddie said it was "too early" to determine how yesterday's decision would impact plans to bring MLS to Toronto.

"We're disappointed," he said.


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