Grass to greet soccer giant

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

What Real Madrid wants, Real Madrid gets.

In this case, $250,000 worth of real grass, laid down yesterday at BMO Field in time for tonight's open practice and tomorrow's friendly against Toronto FC.

It did make for an idyllic picture, with the four-inch sod sunbathed a bright green, while cascading sprinklers were on full blast and a small army of workers fixed any troublesome seams. The turf came from NGF, a local company specializing in golf courses, but will be gone after Saturday's Toronto Nationals lacrosse game.

"We're confident (Real Madrid) will find this very suitable to play on," said Bob Hunter, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.'s executive vice-president for venues.

The Spanish soccer giant, which includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Raul Albiol, flies in this afternoon and will stage the open workout with tickets $15 a pop. Coach Manuel Pellegrini and two yet-to-be named players will hold a news conference.

The rumoured appearance fee for Real is $1.1 million, with MLSEL making some of that back with the practice and top-end game tickets that range from $140 to $215. A promotion company paid most of the cost of the grass.

About 1,000 seats have been added in the north end that become permanent next season.

Madrid plays in Washington at 91,000-seat FedEx Field on Sunday against DC United.


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