Real price gouge awaits faithful

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

The Real Madrid game is local, but the prices will seem loco to some for the much debated friendly against Toronto FC.

The range is from $140 to $215 plus other fees, though subscribers and those on the waiting list get a "loyalty discount" starting at $125.

TFC officials have been sensitive to criticism of the Real game, plagued by everything from cost, to the installation of real grass it can't yet provide its own team, to the Major League Soccer's scheduling woes the Aug. 7 date creates.

"Real plays in an 80,000 seat stadium, they're going to an 80,000-seat stadium in Washington before us and we're getting them in a 20,000 seat-stadium," said Tom Anselmi, senior vice-president and COO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

"We're paying higher than $1 million for FIFA's team of the century and I think it's exciting for our fans. It's like seeing the Rolling Stones at the El Mocambo again. It's a big-time event and there's a price that you'd pay, just like to see Madonna.

"It wasn't in the season's ticket holder package (a game against lesser known River Plate of Argentina is), but those fans are getting a better price than Joe Public."

Anselmi defended bringing in the grass for just one night.

"I fear people think we have some sort of agenda going here. This is rolled-in sod that costs $250,000, it dies in a couple of days and you take it out. Madrid wouldn't come without grass there.

"There is going to be a full change to grass at BMO one day, that will cost a lot and we're prepared to write that cheque ourselves. But some don't realize we have a lot of work to do with our partners (the city and the Exhibition Place board) to provide that surface we'd agreed to for multi-use."


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