BMO turf war over?

BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

For the turf-weary Reds, the grass has always been greener.

But a $5.5-million proposal by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. -- if approved by the three levels of government -- would finally tear up the turf at BMO Field in favour of natural grass.

"With a little bit of luck and a little bit of good fortune, we can get it for next year, said Tom Anselmi, executive vice- president and COO of MLSEL.

Yesterday, the first official step in that process was taken when the Exhibition Place board of governors approved MLSEL's proposal to invest in Lamport Stadium and a second west-end soccer pitch, likely the field at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute.

The proposal must then be approved by Toronto city council. Approval must also come from the provincial and federal governments.

FED UP

Anselmi is hopeful city council will agree it's a win-win situation for the city, which owns BMO Field, and for Toronto FC, whose players are fed up with the Field Turf.

"We believe there's lots of support at the city level because our proposal is so good," Anselmi said. "We're picking up the tab on everything. It makes BMO Field a better facility and would attract better international games and players."

Because BMO Field was built with funding from all levels of government, the stadium must be accessible year-round to the community.

The MLSEL proposal would see the company spending $3.5 million to replace the turf at BMO with grass, $2 million in community sports facilities, including an estimated $1.2 million upgrade to Lamport Stadium, on which a winter-friendly bubble would be built, and another $800,000 to convert the field at Lakeshore Collegiate, or another local field, to turf.

It's no secret the artificial grass is unpopular with most of the pros who don cleats at BMO, including TFC's Dwayne De Rosario, who has threatened to quit the team if the stadium doesn't get grass soon.


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