T.O. lands soccer final

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The Ex will mark the spot for the final of the world under-20 soccer tournament.

The Canadian Soccer Association in conjunction with the City of Toronto is slated to announce today the new stadium scheduled to be built at Exhibition Place will play host to the final of the under-20 tournament, July 22, 2007.

The under-20 runs July 1-22 in five separate Canadian cities.

While officials connected with the CSA and City of Toronto, which has pledged $9.8 million toward building the $63 million, 20,000-seat stadium, were closely guarded about the announcement, several sources confirmed it.

Edmonton had been considered a strong candidate to host the final game because of its stadium capacity of some 60,000 combined with previous experience playing host to big soccer tournaments, but there has been a push to showcase the new Toronto soccer facility.

"It does make sense that Toronto with all its glory (in the new stadium) should host the final game and it will attract 20,000," speculated one soccer insider.

Another source said that while there was a big push by Edmonton to play host to the final game, announcing Toronto as the site could be a tactic to make the incoming federal Conservative Party live up to its pre-election remark to honour infrastructure programs that had been greenlighted by the fallen Liberal government. The Liberals had committed $27 million from the federal level, combined with $8 million from the province. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has guaranteed $18.2 million through stadium naming rights and private funding.

The project, which begins its first major phase with the demolition of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame sometime next month, has yet to receive approval from the federal Treasury Board. The Liberal fall will create a new turnover on the board and there is no set timetable when incoming Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce his new cabinet.

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