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U of T moves forward with smaller stadium plan


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UofT moves forward with smaller stadium plan


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

POSTED AT 1:13 AM EDT Wednesday, Oct 13, 2004

Toronto — The University of Toronto plans to build a 10,000-seat stadium on the campus at a cost of up to $40-million, a university official said yesterday.

The project would include a running track, all-weather field and training facilities, said Jon Dellandrea, U of T vice-president of development.

Two weeks ago, the university cancelled plans for a 25,000-seat stadium in partnership with the Toronto Argonauts and the Canadian Soccer Association. That project would have cost $80-million, but the federal and provincial governments were to kick in $35-million.

The university blamed rising costs for its decision to scrap that proposal. The Argos and CSA are considering other sites with the same government backing.

The university is committed to build a new facility on the site of Varsity Stadium, which was torn down two years ago, Mr. Dellandrea said yesterday. "With the Argo project no longer being on the table, what we are looking at is a stadium in the order of 10,000 seats."

That would probably cost $35-million to $40-million, he added. Financing would likely come from the university, stadium naming rights, donations and some kind of student fee. Students rejected a proposed fee in 2002 to pay for a $55-million athletic complex on the site, and Mr. Dellandrea said any new fee would have to originate from students.

"The open question is whether there is a mood on behalf of the student leadership to try and step up and make something happen," he said. The students' administrative council supports a new stadium but has said the university and government should pay for it.

Although the university blamed costs for killing the Argo venture, documents show some senior U.of.T officials were concerned about working with the football club.

A report from a Sept. 13 meeting of the governing council's executive committee indicates that members expressed concern about "the necessity of the involvement of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, the value of the guarantee of a revenue stream, the usage for the stadium, the value of planning a stadium for football vs. for soccer, why the size of the stadium had been planned for 25,000 seats instead of a smaller number, and the value of the partnership with the Argonauts."

The report also said some members complained the university presented the project as a "done deal."

Mr. Dellandrea said those issues had been raised constantly by some people on campus. There was a "lack of information, misinformation, misconception, and this was part of what, at the end of the day, kind of killed the project," he said. "People who really didn't understand the details of what we were doing" expressed concern, he said.

David Cynamon, a co-owner of the Argos, said that he was unaware of any concern at the university about working with the football team or the financial viability of the stadium. He added that he and partner Howard Sokolowski had spent nearly $1-million on the proposal by the time it was cancelled.

The U of T "had no problem using our money to get the project to this point," he said in an e-mail in response to questions from The Globe and Mail. "Cost was never the issue."

Mr. Cynamon has pointed out that the Argos were prepared to put more money into the project.

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Well, from a soccer point of view, this might be (realistically) all we need. Depending on the rent, the Lynx would love this size of a stadium and - who's kidding who - how many times would CSA games really exceed 10,000 fans [see WC qualifying attendences].

If the CSA can jump in an get it up to 15,000 (or so), I think that this would be a wonderful little place to play. But hey, can't have everything.

As for the Argos, I watched Goldhawk Live last night on Rogers TV (don't ask) and the owners really gave me a bad impression. They came across to me as having an "I want, I want, I want..." "me first, me first, me first..." attitude and appeared very closed-minded about openly discussing any stadium options other than York University, which they are really focussed on.

They (blindly) argue the need to be close to the (fastest growing) community to the North (York Region) and it's relative proximity to the 407. Yikes...? I guess that the 3 million folks in Toronto and the tourist crowd in downtown hotels don't count anymore.

Personally, I would much rather see a game at a small and cosy field at U of T, then hike all the way up to York for games. When the Lynx played there, travel was awful.

[broken record alert] That having been said, I am still convinced that Downsview is the next major hub in the city waiting to happen. Time to jump on it now, before it joins the rest of the city's super-expensive land properties. This place could rival the Skydome for events [see Papal visit and SARS benefit concert].

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quote:[broken record alert] That having been said, I am still convinced that Downsview is the next major hub in the city waiting to happen. Time to jump on it now, before it joins the rest of the city's super-expensive land properties.

Absolutely agree.

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I can't wait to hear what the final bill on this thing is.

Incidentally, I thought that the money U of T was putting up in the old plan was going to be a loan, the payments for which would be covered by rental fees collected from the Argos and CSA. So how does this stadium, which they're building without expecting tenants or outside investment?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think universities should be in the sports venue business. But if they want a venue, they should stick with the most cost-effective option. But we all know that cost had nothing to do with them killing the previous plan.

Anyhow, I'm expecting a final tally of $60m to build this thing.


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I don't expect this project by the U of T to go anywhere. This plan will be squashed as soon as they go to the students for money. The U of T is way too political, and they will take years to finalize anything. I do find it interesting that the money the U of T have to kick in for this proposal is around the same amount of money they had to kick in for the CSA/Argo proposal.

On the issue of building the Argo/CSA stadium at York U. I just wanted to add a little bit. It is absoulely necessary that the subway is extended to York for any stadium to make sense at this location. That location will be a mess on game day if you are expecting 25-30,000 people to arrive by car, especially for a weekday game during the school year.

Edit: The more that I think about it, this is nothing more then a PR move by the University of Toronto. They made this announcement in order to not look so bad for pulling out of the Argo/CSA stadium. I predict that in the end, the U of T will build a 5,000 seat all-bleacher stadium, with very few amenities.

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