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Argos officially pull out.

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But looks like stadium will go ahead as a 20,000 seater....hopefully MLS is still on track.

Argos commit to Rogers Centre

CFL club opts out of planned York stadium


Like the money base behind it, the proposed stadium at York University is getting smaller.

With the Toronto Argonauts officially pulling out of the project to stay at the Rogers Centre, the Canadian Soccer Association said today the stadium has shrunk to 20,000 seats from 25,000.

The CSA, which made the stadium the cornerstone of its successful bid to host the world under-20 men’s soccer championship in 2007, insists the York project remained on track, despite the loss of the Argos’ $20-million contribution.

“We’re moving forward with our stadium project and are very confident in our ability to ensure that this stadium will be built,” Kevan Pipe, CSA chief operating officer, said in an interview Monday.

But the university, which called the Argos’ decision ``disappointing, although not wholly unexpected,” has been less definitive. While saying it is looking at developing a “viable solution,” it has not said the stadium is a done deal.

Gary Brewer, York’s vice-president of finance and administration, said in a statement Monday that the university board of governors ``will make the final determination on the stadium project once the available options have been presented and all the information has been assessed.”

A final decision is needed within days — the university is finalizing architects and the project has to start by October if the venue is to be ready for the June 1, 2007, start of the World Youth Championship.

In making its announcement Monday, the Argos said that the Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, had won it over with promises of a good schedule, enhanced facility and better financial terms.

“We want to be in a stadium that can accommodate our growing support, with a fan and family-friendly schedule, and fit with our economic structure,” Argonauts co-owner David Cynamon said in a statement.

The Rogers Centre deal, which begins for the 2005 season, could last 15 years — in the form of a five-year agreement with two five-year extensions through the 2019 season.

The Blue Jays, who own the Rogers Centre, said the agreement involves a “facility licensing fee benefiting both organizations.”

The Argos had initially agreed to contribute $20 million, plus look after any cost overruns, to the planned $70-million York stadium. The federal government agreed to provide $27 million and the provincial government $8 million, with York supplying another $15 million and the land.

The CSA, while strapped for investment cash, did help open up those government coffers by winning the right to host the 2007 World Youth Championship.

Pipe said a 20,000-seat venue is more than acceptable.

“We are in the stages of redesigning this facility now to accommodate 20,000 seats as well as eliminating 85-person dressing rooms that the Argos had initially been looking at and so on.”

Asked if the resulting stadium would be “no frills,” Pipe replied: “Will it be an Air Canada Centre-type facility? No, of course not. You can’t build Air Canada Centre-type facilities with the types of money we’re talking about.

“But will it be an effective, an efficient stadium that will service our needs from a national perspective as well as many other perspectives for the years to come? . . . Absolutely.”

The revamped stadium, if it goes ahead, will be a single-tier design. At one point, the plan called for two-tier stands on two sides.

The timing of the news is unfortunate for the CSA, which has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday in Toronto to announce which four cities will join Toronto and Edmonton in hosting the soccer tournament.

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