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BMO Field

BMO Field
Location 170 Princes' Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario M6K 3C3
Owner City of Toronto
Operator Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Capacity 20,000 (2007–2009)
21,859 (2010–2013)
22,591 (2014)
30,991 (2015–present)[1]
Field size 105 × 68 meters (115 x 74 yards)
Surface FieldTurf (2007-2009)
Kentucky Bluegrass (2010-present)
Broke ground March 29, 2006[2]
Opened April 28, 2007
Expanded 2010
Construction cost C$62.9 million
($71.8 million in 2016 dollars[3])
C$120 million (2014-16 renovation)
Architect Brisbin Brooks Beynon Architects (BBB Architects)
Project manager PMX, Inc.[4]
Structural engineer Halcrow Yolles[5]
Services engineer The Mitchell Partnership Inc.[6]
General contractor PCL Constructors Canada Inc.[5]
Canada men's national soccer team (2007–present)
Canada women's national soccer team (2007–present)
Toronto FC (MLS) (2007–present)
Toronto Nationals (MLL) (2009)
Canada national rugby union team (2011–present)
Toronto FC II (USL) (2015)
Toronto Argonauts (CFL) (Planned 2016)

BMO Field is a sports stadium located in Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The open-air structure can seat up to 30,991[1] spectators in its standard configuration for soccer and approximately 25,000 in its Canadian football configuration. It is owned by the City of Toronto, and managed by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Built on the site of the former Exhibition Stadium, it opened on April 28, 2007 with a 1–0 loss by home side Toronto FC of Major League Soccer against the Kansas City Wizards. The Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League are scheduled to move into the stadium for the 2016 season.

The stadium is called the National Soccer Stadium when it hosts FIFA events, and was referred to as Exhibition Stadium during the 2015 Pan American Games. It hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. It also hosted the MLS Cup 2010 on November 21, 2010.


  • Construction 1
    • Renovations 1.1
  • Events 2
    • Historic goals 2.1
  • Major tournaments 3
    • 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup 3.1
    • 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 3.2
    • 2015 Pan American Games 3.3
    • 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup 3.4
  • Attendance records 4
    • MLS 4.1
    • Rugby 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


BMO Field is the fifth stadium to be built at its exact location at Exhibition Place. The most recent was Exhibition Stadium, which lost its primary tenants, the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball, with the opening in 1989 of SkyDome (Rogers Centre since 2005). Exhibition Stadium was demolished in 1999.

The Argonauts submitted a proposal to the city to construct a new 22,000 seat stadium at Exhibition Place in March 2003.[7] That July the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced separate plans for a 30,000 seat $82 million stadium at the site, to host the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup which it had bid on.[8] The governments of Canada and Ontario agreed to provide a combined C$35 million in funding for a new stadium if the CSA was successful in acquiring the rights to the tournament.[9] At the time, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), owners of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs and the National Basketball Association's Toronto Raptors, was also looking for a stadium to host a new Major League Soccer (MLS) team they were considering launching. The league considered soccer-specific stadiums to be necessary for an expansion franchise to be granted, due to the improved atmosphere and control of revenue streams.

The Argonauts, CSA and MLSE agreed to partner to build a new 25,000-seat, $80 million Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto.[9][10][11] Aside from the committed government funding, $15 million was to come from the UofT, which would own the stadium, and a $30 million loan would be taken out by the University with the annual $2.1 million financing charges paid by the Argos.[9] However, MLSE backed out of the stadium due to a lack of financial return, and the deal ultimately fell through in 2004 when the University's new President withdrew his support after its cost rose over $100 million.[10][11][12][13]

Later that year, the Argos and CSA announced plans to build a 25,000-seat, $70 million stadium at York University, which would contribute the land and $15 million, with the Argos adding $20 million to the government funding.[10][14] MLSE was not involved in this project.[15] However, the Argos pulled out of the stadium after signing a new 15-year lease at Rogers Centre with significantly reduced rent.[16]

In 2005, the stadium site was moved back to Exhibition Place, on the location of the demolished Exhibition Stadium and then-existing Sports Hall of Fame building, in a partnership between MLSE and the CSA. With a total costs of $62.9 million (all figures are in Canadian dollars) to build the stadium[17] ($72.8 million including the land), financial contributions came from multiple sources.[18] The Canadian Federal Government contributed $27 million, the Government of Ontario added an additional $8 million, and the City of Toronto paid $9.8 million and contributed the land for the project (valued at $10 million),[19][20] while retaining ownership of the stadium.[20] MLSE contributed $8 million towards construction costs and was responsible for any cost overruns.[20] In return, they got the management rights for the stadium.[21] MLSE committed to purchase a MLS soccer team to play in the stadium. The remaining funds came from MLSE, which paid $10 million for the naming rights of the stadium for the duration of the 20-year management agreement, which they later resold to the Bank of Montreal for $27 million over the first 10 years.[20][22][23] The deal called for the stadium to be named BMO Field, after the ticker symbol of the Bank of Montreal, though it was referred to under the National Soccer Stadium name in official references to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, as non-FIFA-supporting sponsors were not permitted.

The proposal approved by the City of Toronto was for a stadium that was "capable of a conversion to a football format."[7][24] The Argonauts attempted to join the project at the last minute, but MLSE, citing budget and time limitations, constructed the stadium such that it could not fit a CFL field without demolition and reconstruction of the endzone stands.[24][25][26]

On May 11, 2006, Major League Soccer announced that Toronto FC would join the league as its thirteenth (and first Canada-based) team in 2007, with BMO Field serving as its home.

The field of play dimensions are 74 yards (68 m) wide × 115 yards (105 m) long,[27] meeting FIFA standards. The stadium features seats which are entirely red with the exception of a design on each of the main stands. On the east side, the design is a large maple leaf while on the lower west stand the design spells out "TORONTO", and has a portion of the Toronto FC logo. The south stand has "BMO" spelled out.


A view of BMO Field's East Grandstand, looking eastward towards downtown Toronto in 2012.

BMO Field originally used FieldTurf rather than a natural grass pitch, which attracted some criticism.[28][29] A temporary grass turf was laid in August 2009 for a friendly against Real Madrid.[30] Prior to the 2010 season Toronto City Council approved MLSE's request to convert the stadium to natural grass.[19][31] MLSE paid the $3.5 million for the conversion, and promised to cover all additional costs to maintain the surface.[32][33] A variety of Kentucky Bluegrass was installed in the spring of 2010, along with a state of the art drainage system and heating system in the field. MLSE spent a further $2 million to expand the north end by 1,400 seats for the 2010 season.[34][35] As part of the deal to convert the field to natural grass, MLSE spent $1.2 million adding a winter bubble to Lamport Stadium and $800,000 building a new artificial turf field to replace the community use hours lost at BMO.[36]

In November 2009, it became public that the Argonauts were in discussions with the City of Toronto over the possibility of moving from the Rogers Centre to BMO Field, potentially as early as the 2010 CFL season.[37] The CFL agreed to study the feasibility of the Argos playing at BMO Field, which was built too short to fit a full length Canadian football field despite the requirement that the stadium be convertible to CFL configuration in the original stadium agreement.[38] According Tom Anselmi, former executive vice-president and chief operating officer with MLSE, without significant renovations BMO Field could only fit a 100-yard field with 15-yard endzones or a 110-yard field with 10-yard endzones, which is 20 yards shorter than the standard 110-yard field and 20-yard endzones.[39] On December 16, 2009, the Argonauts officially abandoned the idea following receipt of the CFL study which stated that "Canadian football could not be played there in its current state."[40]

Anselmi indicated in 2009 that a second level could be added to the east side stands and extra rows added to the south side stands, which would add an additional 8,400 seats, for approximately $15 million.[41] Following Tim Leiweke taking over as president of MLSE in June 2013, he began discussing the company's plans for a major renovation of the stadium.[42][43][44] In early January 2014, Leiweke said that next six months would be spent consulting with experts to determine the feasibility of the project.[45]

As the stadium is owned by the City of Toronto, their consent is required for any modifications.[46] The City has insisted that any renovations includes making the pitch longer to fit a CFL field so it can house the Argonauts, who must vacate their current home Rogers Centre by the end of 2017 season.[47][48][49][50] Mark Grimes, Chairman of Exhibition Place's Board, has been negotiating with MLSE on the project and has said "I think I have Mr. Leiweke’s ear in that I am a big CFL fan and that we need to get the Argos on stable ground."[51] Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said that "the Argos have got to play there" and that "I think there is a very good chance that they will."[52] On February 25 Grimes said that a deal was "getting close" and could be reached "in the next couple weeks".[53] Preliminary plans were released to the public on March 5.[54][55]

In addition to making the field compatible for CFL games, the $115–120 million upgrades would added a new upper deck on the east side, raising capacity from 21,566 seats to 30,000 for soccer, with 25,000 seats in CFL configuration, and would be temporarily expandable with additional endzone seating to 40,000 for big events[47][48][49][50][54][56] such as rugby sevens at the 2015 Pan-Am games, the 2018 NHL Winter Classic, Grey Cup, MLS Cup or a successful 2026 FIFA World Cup by Canada.[44][48][49][50][54][57] The plans call for $30 million retractable endzone seating in the south and a retractable terrace in the north end to ensure that fans aren't farther from the playing surface in soccer configuration due to the longer CFL field,[47][50][54][58] and a roof over most permanent seating areas.[47][48][54][56] Leiweke has promised that soccer playing surface will remain natural grass,[45] and a reinforced hybrid playing surface such as Desso GrassMaster, in which artificial fibres are embedded in the turf to allow for the grass roots to intertwine with them to strengthen the pitch, is under consideration.[45][50][54][55] A subsurface heating system and a $1 million artificial lighting system to encourage grass growth will also be installed.[58][59] However, portions of the CFL endzones will be artificial turf.[60] Under a two-phase construction process, the field would be lengthened and the capacity of the stadium increased for $77 million by May 1, 2015, with the roof added by May 1, 2016 for $43 million.[46][48][50][56][56]

Leiweke has said that even without an expansion the stadium needs $30 million in repairs, and that the original agreement calls for the city and MLSE to split that bill equally.[61] Instead, MLSE is seeking $10 million in public funding from each of the municipal, provincial, and federal governments to top up their $90 million contribution, plus any cost overruns, for the expansion.[48][49][52][56][62] MLSE has argued that the new stadium would result in $8 million in economic benefits, including taxes, accruing to the province annually,[63] and $18 million in taxes on the construction project.[64] The company has agreed to pay a fixed annual rental fee of $865,000 to the City for the upgraded stadium, rather than the variable revenue sharing model under the present agreement which has returned an average of $397,000 to the city over the previous five years, to help ensure that the city recoups its investment.[48][56] The new arrangement would guarantee the city $25.4 million, and with the projected $6 million in parking revenues the $31 million in revenue over the term of the lease would be $19 million more than under the current agreement.[65] As manager of the stadium, MLSE will get any profit turned by the stadium, and be responsible for any losses.[56] MLSE's management and naming rights agreement for the stadium, which was set to expire in 2027, will be extended by 10 years under the proposal.[48][56] The agreement requires MLSE to reach a "long-term use (i.e. 20 years)" lease with the Argos for usage of the stadium starting in 2015.[48][49][56] The proposed renovations were unanimously approved by the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place on March 7,[19][47][48][50][66] and the City of Toronto's Executive Committee gave their consent on March 19.[46][66][67] The full City Council approved the deal on April 3,[66][68][69] and the agreement is planned to be finalized by June 15.[56] The Provincial Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan has said that MLSE has submitted a funding request that that "we are looking at it", while the Federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel's spokesperson said that "the federal government has no program to fund professional sports facilities".[70] A spokesperson for Lebel would later say "our government will not fund the BMO Field as long as it is used by a professional sports team".[64] However, according to Leiweke, the federal funding "is not going to the stadium, their money is going to host big events."[71] In another interview he said "the feds are giving us the resources to (temporarily) expand to 40,000 for our Grey Cup bids and Winter Classic bids".[72] If approved, excavation is scheduled to begin in September.[50][55][56] The designs are expected to be finalized by April.[19][48]

By late May 2014, MLSE had not reached a financing agreement with either the federal or provincial governments to fill the $20 million funding gap. The fall of the government of Ontario, with an election scheduled for June 12, prevented them from approving their share of the funding.[73] With deadlines approaching to start construction to ensure that the stadium is ready for the 2015 Pan-Am games, MLSE decided to move forward with the first phase of the renovation without first securing further funding commitments from the government.[64][71] The revised plan proposes that the lengthening of the field to make it CFL compatible and the infrastructure to allow for a temporary increase in seating capacity be postponed to a third phase costing $20–$25 million to be completed by May 1, 2017, pending a commitment by the governments or other parties to fund it and a usage agreement being reached with the Argos.[64][71][74][75][76] MLSE agreed to pay the city an additional $160,000 annually for as long as phase 3 remains uncompleted to compensate the city for the envisioned parking revenues at Argos games.[74] Leiweke pledged that if both levels of government funded the project "we're obligated to renovate the stadium for the CFL",[71][77] but if the necessary conditions for phase 3 are not met by May 15, 2017, MLSE can pull out.[74] The new proposal was approved by city council on June 12.[78] It is thought that if the Liberals win the provincial election they will fund the project.[64] The official groundbreaking took place on September 23.[79][80][81] In April 2015, it was reported that the renovations were $10 million over budget due to pressure to meet deadlines, which MLSE is obligated to fund.[82] Later that month, Leiweke stated that a new ownership group for the Argos willing to contribute $10 million to the project had been identified, and that MLSE would match this to fill the $20 million funding gap. Part of the agreement would see two Grey Cups played at the newly renovated BMO Field.[83][84] On May 20, 2015, it was announced that two of the three ownership partners of MLSE, Bell Canada and Larry Tanenbaum's Kilmer Group, had acquired an ownership stake in the Argos, with the deal to close at the end of the year, and would move the team to BMO Field for the 2016 season.[85]


Toronto FC played their first game at BMO field on April 28, 2007. The grand opening celebration took place on May 12, 2007.[86]

The only music concert thus far at BMO Field was performed by progressive rock group Genesis on September 7, 2007.

The 2008 MLS All-Star Game was held at BMO Field on July 24, 2008 versus West Ham United F.C. of the English Premier League.

In 2009, the Toronto Nationals of Major League Lacrosse began playing their home games at BMO Field. The team moved to Lamport Stadium for 2010 and to Hamilton in 2011 before folding in 2013.

On July 18, 2009, BMO Field had its first alcohol suspension, due to an incident that occurred on May 21, 2008, regarding alcohol consumption by a minor.[87]

BMO Field became the first venue outside of the United States to host the MLS Cup in 2010, featuring the Colorado Rapids defeating FC Dallas 2–1.

Rugby at BMO Field

BMO Field has become a home venue for Canada's national rugby union team. Since 2011, the team has played at the venue regularly.[88][89][90]

On July 24, 2014, BMO Field hosted the opening match of the 2014 International Champions Cup between Olympiacos and A.C. Milan and Olympiacos won the match 3-0.[91]

With the Argonauts moving to the renovated BMO Field beginning with the 2016 season, the team was awarded the right to host the 104th Grey Cup at the stadium on November 27, 2016.[92]

Historic goals

The first goal at BMO Field was scored by Eddie Johnson for Kansas City Wizards in a 1–0 Major League Soccer win over home side Toronto FC in the stadium opener on April 28, 2007. The first ever Toronto FC goal at the stadium was Danny Dichio's first-half strike against Chicago Fire on May 12, 2007 (also his club's first ever MLS goal).

The first goal at BMO Field scored by a Canadian came at the official opening on May 11, 2007, in a U-20 friendly between Canada and Argentina. David Edgar scored a penalty in a 2–1 defeat for Canada, just four minutes after Alejandro Gomez had scored the first ever international goal at the stadium.

Costa Rica's Víctor Núñez scored the first ever senior international goal in a 1–1 friendly draw with hosts Canada on September 12, 2007, shortly before Dwayne De Rosario scored Canada's first senior goal at the stadium.

The first Toronto FC goal scored by a Canadian at BMO Field was in a June 25, 2007 friendly against Aston Villa of the English Premier League. Andrea Lombardo scored an equalizer at BMO Field's south end to make it 2–2 before Aston Villa ran out 4–2 winners. The first league goal at BMO Field scored by a Canadian came when Miguel Cañizalez scored for Toronto FC in the second minute of their 2–1 defeat to Columbus Crew on September 22, 2007, snapping an 824-minute MLS goalless streak.

On May 19, 2007, Bolivian forward Jaime Moreno scored his 108th MLS goal on a penalty kick for D.C. United in their 2–1 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field, tying him for the all-time league lead with Jason Kreis. Moreno has since taken sole ownership of the record.

In lacrosse, the first MLL goal at BMO Field was scored by Merrick Thomson of the Toronto Nationals in a 15-11 win in their home opener on May 22, 2009.

Major tournaments

2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup

National Soccer Stadium hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup; the first major tournament held at the stadium. The stadium saw the Canadian Under-20 squad once. The stadium also saw six knockout stage games including the Final; which was won by Argentina.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
July 1, 2007  Canada 0–3  Chile Group A 20,195
July 2, 2007  Portugal 2–0  New Zealand Group C 19,526
 Gambia 0–3  Mexico
July 5, 2007  New Zealand 0–1  Gambia
 Mexico 2-1  Portugal
July 8, 2007  Chile 0–0  Austria Group A
July 11, 2007  United States 2-1 (AET)  Uruguay Round of 16
July 12, 2007  Argentina 3-1  Poland
July 14, 2007  Austria 2–1  United States Quarterfinal
July 19, 2007  Chile 0–3  Argentina Semifinal
July 22, 2007  Chile 1–0  Austria 3rd Place Match
 Czech Republic 1–2  Argentina Final 19,526

2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

The National Soccer Stadium hosted the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Canada played in Toronto for the first two match days, with Korea DPR, Finland, and Ghana in their group. National Soccer Stadium also hosted a quarterfinal match on August 16.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
August 5, 2014  Canada 0-1  Ghana Group A 20,195
 Finland 1-2  North Korea
August 8, 2014  Canada 3-2  Finland
 Ghana 0-3  North Korea
August 13, 2014  South Korea 2-1  Mexico Group C
 Costa Rica 0-3  New Zealand Group D
August 16, 2014  North Korea 1-1 (3-1 on penalties)  United States Quarterfinal

2015 Pan American Games

During the 2015 Pan American Games, BMO Field hosted the rugby sevens competition. Due to sponsorship regulations, the facility was referred to as "Exhibition Stadium" during the Games (ironically, BMO Field did not host the soccer competition, which took place at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton and thus was not referred to as "National Soccer Stadium").[93]

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
July 14, 2015  Jamaica 1 - 0  El Salvador Group B
 Canada 0 - 0  Costa Rica

Attendance records

The largest attendance overall at the stadium was on May 10, 2015 for a Toronto FC game when they hosted Houston Dynamo in front of 30,226 fans in their home opener.[94]


Season Season
2007 20,130 20,522 19,123
2008 20,120 20,461 19,657
2009 20,344 20,902 19,843
2010 20,453 22,108 18,394
2011 20,267 22,453 16,313
2012 18,681 20,071 14,623
2013 17,639 21,700 12,627
2014 22,086 22,591 18,269
2015 23,978 30,226 16,382


The largest crowd for rugby at BMO stadium and in Canada occurred when the Canada national rugby union team hosted the New Zealand Māori All Blacks before 22,566 people on November 3, 2013.[95]

See also


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External links

  • Argonauts BMO Field Site
  • Release of Naming Rights Sale
  • BMO Field Construction Photos
  • Soccer stadium Web site, including construction webcam
  • Video Tour of BMO Field
  • Cathal Kelly. "FC or TFC ... the fans will decide". Toronto Star, April 5, 2007.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of
Toronto FC

Succeeded by
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of
Toronto Nationals

Succeeded by
Lamport Stadium
Preceded by
Rogers Centre
Home of
Toronto Argonauts

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Qwest Field
Host of the

Succeeded by
The Home Depot Center
Preceded by
Investors Group Field
Host of the
Grey Cup

Succeeded by
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