BMO should stay soccer-only field

GARETH WHEELER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

Pinball Clemons is one of us! We all know about his exploits on the football field and commitment to the community, but a lot of people don't know about his soccer roots.

Clemons was a striker for an all-state team in Florida before attending The College of William and Mary. At college, Clemons played "real" football for a season before fully dedicating himself to the American brand.

So, in his own way, Pinball is one of us. That's why he should understand Toronto FC supporters are adamant that BMO Field stays a soccer-only stadium.

In a recent interview on the Casino Rama Grill Room, Pinball said the Argos continue to talk to the powers that be about the possibility of a future move to BMO Field.

But it should be stated that the Argos aren't actively looking to get out of the Rogers Centre, and Pinball made it clear nothing's imminent in terms of the CFL franchise changing addresses.

However, a move west down the lakeshore has always been a logical step for the Argos. The Rogers Centre is fine, but there's no way it can replicate the experience of an intimate venue like BMO Field.

And the Rogers Centre does very little for the Argos financially. They don't get a cut from beer rights and parking, and only get a small pay-off from concessions. So, in Pinball's own words, they're constantly evaluating their business model to do what's best for the franchise.

A proposed partnership between the Toronto soccer club and the Argos has been in the works for years. Public monies were given to the stadium project with the stipulation that the Argos would be involved. Things went awry and the Argos were left out of the conversation. Thus a soccer-only stadium was born, and now it's something TFC cannot relinquish.

Argo-fying the stadium is not simply a matter of adding seats. The playing surface would need major reconstruction. And as it stands, the field is too small for CFL football. At least 20 yards would have to be added to the length of the field to accommodate the endzones. By adding length, the intimacy would be lost, and that's part of what makes BMO Field so great.

And please, no football lines. Yardage lines on any soccer field looks bush league. It's a distraction to the players and visually unappealing. I cringe every time I see Real Salt Lake highlights.

Granted, a soccer-only stadium is on the way in Utah, but too many other teams in the MLS are playing in unflattering NFL stadiums.

It's not just playing on turf that's an issue. Once NFL teams start playing, the grass gets chewed up and the quality of the field deteriorates. As the field deteriorates, so does the quality of play.

If the MLS and its teams cared enough about the quality of the game, they would require each team to play in a soccer-only stadium.

TFC supporters groups are steadfast to this mantra. Seeing the Argos writing on the wall, many are already planning a symbolic protest during the all-star game to be played here in Toronto late July. Those in favour of keeping BMO Field soccer specific will be wearing black.

It would be a black day if the decision makers decide a multi-use facility is the direction to go. The professionalism of a soccer-only stadium is what's on the line. Upsizing for the sake of profitability does nothing for the fans. And really, it's the supporters who are the pulse of the club.

So Pinball, we all know you're going to be mayor some day. Do all soccer fans here a favour by keeping the Argos out of BMO. And while you're at it, do you think you could get us a grass pitch?

OTHER MUSINGS

Injured New York Red Bulls midfielder Claudio Reyna's decision to play in a charity game with the likes of Steve Nash and Thierry Henry instead of being part of his squads West Coast trip is comical. If he's injured, he shouldn't be playing -- period ... You'd be hard pressed to meet a nicer guy than TFC midfielder Rohan Ricketts. He came in to do the Casino Rama Grill Room in full kit. That's never been done before. Even 50-Cent is a fan. After the rapper saw Ricketts play, he became a fan and Rohan gave him his jersey.


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