Toronto FC and BMO Field took a giant step forward in their progression towards complete football legitimacy today as Toronto City Council, led by season ticket holder Mayor Miller, approved the installation of delicious, real, green grass in time for the 2010 season. The plan still has to pass provincial and federal watchdogs due to their original contributions to the stadium construction but that is not considered to be a major concern. If all goes well, construction will begin as soon as TFC's season ends and will be ready by late-March 2010. As part of the agreement, MLSE will be retrofitting Lamport Stadium with the winter bubble as well as adding Field Turf at the Lakeshore facility in Etobicoke. Construction on both facilities will also begin soon.
Apart from TFC supporters who will see that luscious grass next spring, the happiest group in town must be the players themselves. The days of unnecessary nagging turf injuries from training and playing on what has become green concrete are nearing their end as are the strange bounces and skidding passes. The excuses will have to be rolled up with the turf as well. Bad play because of turf; bad training because of turf; players refusing to sign because of turf; all of these issues will have to be put away for New England Revolution to use. TFC will be the full real deal now and will have to match their performance to their pitch.
It is not a stretch to say that many in this city, ourselves included, were very skeptical that this would actually happen. Kudos have to be given to MLSE for coming up with a good plan to present to the city which addressed the concerns over community usage and profit loss. MLSE are very good at these kind of business deals but will actually be putting their hands in their pockets to the tune of 5 Million Dollars-plus. Don't pity the Bay Street Bankers too much though - a few more high profile friendlies, like this season's Real Madrid match, will pay for the grass many times over. It is ironic that the Real match which caused such a stir amongst supporters, likely opened the owners' eyes to the potential profit grass could bring and in a roundabout way got us the pitch we yearned for. That match's influence and likely some cash from the club's first big transfer, Maurice Edu to Rangers, made our horticultural dreams come true. Thanks Maurice, maybe you'll be back here soon for an Old Firm friendly to play on the grass you helped buy.