Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is looking at ways to improve BMO Field, home to Toronto FC.
“We’re spending a little bit of time on trying to figure out how to upgrade it,” said Tim Leiweke, MLSE’s new president and CEO.
Leiweke is also dispatching some of the MLS club’s front office to Kansas City for the league’s all-star game July 31 to see the US$200-million-plus Sporting Park, which opened in June 2011.
“Kansas City’s stadium is fantastic,” said Leiweke. “They market it the right way, they sell it the right way.
“Robb and Cliff (Sporting Kansas City co-owners Robb Heineman and Cliff Illig) do the best job in the league. I am in awe of Kansas City and the way they built that team and the way they built that stadium and the way they sell that product and the position they have in that marketplace. They are phenomenal and we should all aspire to be Kansas City and Portland and Vancouver and now Montreal.
“And so suddenly there’s a new challenge which is the economics, the structure, the stadium and the way the team is marketed and the way the team is operated. We’re at a whole new level that is higher than even what TFC set when they came into the league.
“And we as an organization need to step back and go look at all these new stadiums and these clubs, some old like K.C., some new like Portland, and learn from them.”
Leiweke plans to send team officials to such teams in the new few months.
Building BMO Field was part of Canada’s successful bid to host the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup and has been home to TFC since it entered the league in 2007.
The stadium budget was reduced several times prior to construction and the city-owned, MLSE-managed venue was downsized as a result. Today it stands as a no-frills soccer-specific stadium with a modest $62.5-million price tag, albeit one with a picturesque view of downtown and the lakefront.
“Stadiums have changed, the game’s changed, the league’s changed,” Leiweke said. “And so when we came in (the league), BMO was fantastic. Today ... we have work to do at BMO and the owners agree.”
In comparing BMO Field to the one in Kansas City, “We owe our fans more,” he added. “We need to figure out a way to take it to the next level.”
Leiweke calls himself a fan of BMO Field and its location.
“I think what we need is a renovation and an upgrade.”
During his time running AEG (the Anschutz Entertainment Group), Leiweke was involved in building and managing facilities around the globe.
“So I love arenas and I love soccer stadiums.”Report Typo/Error