MLSEL wants a busy building

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Now that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has approval for a building for its soon-to-be named Major League Soccer team, it foresees no problems keeping that building buzzing.

A day after city council approved a deal which will see a $63-million stadium built at the CNE, MLSEL president and CEO Richard Peddie was already onto the next task: Getting the building started.

"Our focus right now has to be construction," Peddie said yesterday.

Peddie did not say how the building will be utilized by MLSEL and the city.

"We've done the model on (limited) dates," Peddie said. "We'll be the lead tenant with over 40% of the attendance and 40% of the events."

Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 days will be taken up by community usage while there also will be concert dates, perhaps a handful of visits by the Canadian National Rugby team and a minimum of 21 events by the Toronto Lynx and the Lady Lynx of the USL.

Nicole Hartrell, the owner and chief operating officer of the Toronto Lynx Soccer Club said yesterday she has a "written and verbal agreement that we will be a major tenant" at the new stadium.

Hartrell said she believes her organization can average 6,000 fans a night in the new building which will seat upward of 20,000.

Peddie said concert dates should help round out the stadium schedule but he believes the options for the facility are limitless.

"It is really a city building that will have the flexibility for us to be creative," Peddie said.

There was plenty of concern that this deal was rushed through the approval process. Peddie said it would not have been completed otherwise.

"There was a lot of talk Thursday about deferring it," Peddie said. "If they had deferred it, it would have been over. Major League Soccer was not waiting and we could not have guaranteed it would have been built on time if it went past (Thursday)."

Peddie and MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum will be heading south to Dallas on Nov. 12 for the MLS board of governors meetings.

"There's still a ton of paper work to be done, but (the franchise) was all contingent on getting a (stadium) deal done," Peddie said.

According to Peddie, the first shovel must be in the ground by January to ensure an opening date of June 2007.

That will give MLSEL a few dates to test the facility before playing host to the 2007 World Youth Soccer Championship beginning July 1.


Videos

Photos