FYI, I went with the click-baity headline instead of the far more appropriate, Here’s some fucking possible bullshit set to derail the Jays’ quest for a grass field, because why should we be allowed to have nice things or bask in some good times for once in two damn decades?

Anywho, as you’ve probably heard by now, Cathal Kelly has published an interesting little piece today for the Globe and Mail, detailing how the supposed foregone conclusion that is the Argos’ move to a new-look BMO Field has hit a snag, and isn’t just on the verge of being called off, but that MLSE “has cancelled plans to include the Toronto Argonauts in their renovation.”

That’s a statement that obviously has ominous undertones for Blue Jays fans who just want to watch their team play on a grass field like everybody damn else — though, if they keep playing the way they’re playing, who could complain? — but it soon becomes evident in Kelly’s piece that the manoeuvrings being discussed are part of a much larger game of chess being played by several of the city’s levels of government and big-money sporting interests, and that cancelled plans could soon be un-cancelled, or reworked, or… we don’t exactly know yet.

That would seem to be the big takeaway from a Jays perspective, too: we just don’t know yet. Or, to give it the more pessimistic slant: we’ve been thrown back into limbo on the Argos issue, after we’d been so sure we’d been handed a clean break, given the fancy-suited set’s plans to dangle the Argos in front of governments in order to secure a handout that would pay for MLSE’s hoped-for renovation of BMO. (Because how else could MLS-and-fuckin’-E pay for something like that. O how???)

I don’t think that was ever really the final hurdle between the Jays and a grass pitch, but here it is again, being propped up in front of us all the same. For now.

A summary of Kelly’s explanation of what’s gone on:

MLSE planned to include the Argos in their renovation of BMO, hoping to secure a $10-million loan from the city and $10-million in grants from the provincial and federal governments. The feds, however, have balked, as they’re wary of appearing like they’re funding sports stadiums (something they’ve pledged not to do), despite MLSE trying their best to provide political cover for them. So, instead of waiting for ol’ Panther Herpes’s approval, MLSE has rather suddenly redone their plans and scaled them back to exclude the CFL — something it sounds like they’re just fine with anyway.

“Within much of the MLSE hierarchy, buying the CFL team was seen as a favour being done in return for the opportunity to service the fans of Toronto FC. Without federal co-operation, no one feels the need to do any more favours,” Kelly explains. “It goes deeper than that. There is the strong sense within MLSE that Ottawa has let them off the hook. Supporters of the soccer club were deeply opposed to lengthening the field to accommodate the CFL. MLSE now gets to serve its base without taking the blame for a failed plan.”

As with all of this stuff, though, the spectre of a potential NFL franchise for this city looms large in the shadows, especially with the Buffalo Bills soon to hit the auction block in the wake of Ralph Wilson’s passing, folks like Larry Tanenbaum potentially lining up to get a piece, and the fact that, as Kelly explains, “the NFL does not want to be seen as undermining Canadian football. The league has made it clear that, if they were to allow a move to Toronto, they would prefer the prospective new owner also be in control of the Argonauts. As they see it, one owner for both teams guarantees the CFL’s long-term survival in Canada’s largest market.”

And, of course, if there is to be Rogers involvement — as their miserably failed Bills in Toronto suggests there might be (though the NFL’s 30 percent rule, ensuring that a single person owns a 30% controlling interest in the club, complicates that) — one thinks that there is a distinct possibility that there could be football, be it CFL or NFL, in the stadium for a long while. Or at least until a football specific venue is built to house whatever moribund franchise gets foisted on a city that has long shown it doesn’t particularly want it (at least, in the NFL’s case, not without the “full experience”– i.e. shitfaced tailgating.)

However! The BMO idea — far preferable, even if it doesn’t necessarily prevent Rogers’ involvement with the NFL from throwing a wrench into the Jays’ plans — isn’t actually necessarily dead.

“BMO Field Renovation 2.0 is reversible. The north section of the structure will remain open, using only temporary stands, meaning that the arena can be adapted for the CFL at some future point,” we’re told. “That will now require the promised $10-million in federal money (easy to give) and a very public capitulation from Ottawa (somewhat more difficult).”

Or… I dunno… a different government at some point next year, perhaps?

Or even if not, the bottom line is, things can still change. So, essentially, we’re back to exactly where we started in Kelly’s piece, wondering. Today’s news means, what, exactly? Well, that’s none of our damn business, ultimately. It’s for the back-slapping swine of big business and big government to figure out for us. We’ll just keep enjoying Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera running around on concrete until the bones in their knees and their lower backs turn to dust, I guess.


Glorious image still via James_in_TO.

Comments (106)

  1. Excellent reference with the Panther Herpes.

  2. I wish we could just have an exact copy of Safeco Field in Toronto. The best and most practical (fuck the rain) stadium in the Majors.

    Ahhh impossible dreams.

  3. Following this saga sounds like the Argos are the funny old uncle that nobody wants to look after and the family can’t decide what home to put him in and who will pay for it.

    • Right?

      And the solution is one no wants to say but everyone is thinking

      end the misery and let’s get on with it

      • I disagree. The Argos are the oldest professional (American-style) football franchise in the world that has continued to exist under one name. The Argos are very close to being the oldest sports franchise in North America, being beaten by the Cubs by only three years.

        The Argos might be in a sad state of affairs today, but they still pull in more fans per game than does Toronto FC.

      • No way. Varsity Arena. Get 10-12,000 seats in there and let people catch the game on their way home from work. I’d go 3-4 times a year vs current zero. It would be sold out easily.

  4. This is just MLSE and the Feds negotiating over money in public.

  5. Or… I dunno… a different government at some point next year, perhaps?

    I just puked in my mouth at the thought. Why don’t we just give all the monies to Quebec to piss away!

    • I thought we already did

      • You think they get money now? Get a liberal gov in there and watch what happens. Eventually us westerners will turn the taps.

        The saddest/maddening part is equalisation is budgeted for in Quebec. Budgeted for!!

        • their students have the lowest university tuition in the continent and protest about it

        • Somebody book this guy a show at Yuk Yuks in Calgary! He’ll slay!

          • I’m not trying to be funny. Just pointing out some things you should know is all.

            I agree 99% with you on baseball… Politics, not so much.

        • Are you serious? So what do you think happens to other provinces that get equalisation payments…think they don’t budget as well. What a completely moronic thing to say…let me guess Edmonton or Calgary…typical idiot. I’m a displaced Maritimer working in Edmonton and I run into idiots like you all the time…let’s say we keep the discussion to baseball or will the West have to turn the taps on to pay for you to get the therapy need to concentrate and try and narrow things down….course now you’ll get all upset and drive in your truck and cut someone off while giving them the finger for actually doing the speed limit and holding you up….Sorry all…just hard to deal with Turnips on a daily basis and then seeing one in here…just set me off.

          • Clearly you’re a moron and nope im not from Alberta. Like that makes a fucking difference anyways. Idiot! Clue the Fuck in before dickheads like you actually vote. Parish the thought

            • Wow, took all that time to come up with that did it Turnip….you’re getting better, the therapy is helping you along. Don’t be ashamed…you are who you are. But remember this is a baseball site…maybe in therapy next week you can work on that…Baseball…you must have gotten your meds mixed up again….you’ve been told the red ones are not to be eaten last….but then again you get your drugs for free…that’s a good Turnip….sit quietly and grow nicely…turn off the computer and go back to your padded room and play….

            • Perish even.

          • Who are you apologising to anyway? Should be your neighbor for being an uninformed idiot who will vote their money right out of their wallet

          • did you just group 2 million people together and call them all typical idiots?

        • Matty=boring asshole

    • Good lord, I just puked in my mouth at the thought of someone who doesn’t want these shitheels the fuck out of power. So, I guess the puke poll is even.

      • I’ll get my dope illegally thanks and keep my money instead of giving to lefty morons

        • Riiiiiiiiight.

          • Are you saying that’s not true? Cause it is, and it’s pathetic!

            • I’m not engaging in this stupidity, sorry.

              • Please ban the guy before his grade 6 education kicks in and he really starts ranting.

              • i live in Vancouver and im embarrassed to be on the other side of the Alberta. For the most part, people there have thier heads in the clouds..and feet in the oil sands.

                • TAR Sands.
                  Call’em what they really fucking are.

                  • Keep your money cowboy, and don’t worry about us in Ontario; we were carrying the whole country for over 100 years. It’s only fair that someone else do it for 10-20.
                    But if you don’t want to kick in for confederacy, now that our industrial base is almost completely gone; maybe we should be talking about carbon taxes?

                    • Bwahahah! Carbon tax that’s funny. Almost like some crappy liberal leader just tried this shit, got himreal far didn’t it.

        • You should just give me your dope cause it is a complete waste on you!! If you actually did any educated research and not eat up the diipsheeeets crap served as facts most of our taxes go to just paying back our interest rates of our debt.. This debt ain’t from the crap you and most brain dead people believe .. Just an FYI public free service announcement ..

      • Andrew, I’m with you on all things baseball (almost). Your politics, well…

        • I thought I clicked on DJF, yet somehow I got onto the Toronto Sun comments section.
          Anyone got the DJF link?

        • “It’s for the back-slapping swine of big business and big government to figure out for us.”

          RIght, well then the solution is for government and big business to stay the fuck away from each other. Which is sort of what the federal government is saying. (Granted, it sounds like they’re not exactly firm on this.)

      • Shit…heels?

    • Abortions for some, miniature Canadian flags for others!!!!

      • all politicians are cut from the same cloth


        it’s a stupid mid game meant to distract you – Big Bird could be the PM and NOTHING would be different

        big oil and big banks rule the land

        • Yup Captain you and me would get along. The idea of wasting any time pretending any of these people will ultimately act differently amuses me.

  6. The pretty obvious solution would be to have the Toronto Argonauts play in Ralph Wilson Stadium for now. Duh.

  7. I really wouldn’t want BMO expanded. The stadium is perfect for TFC.

    That being said I don’t quite have an alternative for the Argos.

  8. why not have the argos share the ti cats stadium? Its not like any of the argos fans live downtown anyway

    • until the hipsters decide it is suddenly fashionable – see: Blue Jays and TFC.

      • Why are you even on this site?

      • This doesn’t even make sense, how come anything popular makes it hipster?

        • I guess you never went to games before the Jays and TFC became popular with the hipster crowd – and who said it was bad? I was stating an observation that many of us fans that have been attending games for years has seen. A little sensitive aren’t we.

          • TFC Average Attendance per year:
            2007 – 20,134
            2008 – 20,108
            2009 – 20,344
            2010 – 20,453
            2011 – 20,267
            2012 – 18,155
            2013 – 18,131

            Blue Jays Average Attendance per year:
            2000 – 21,058
            2001 – 23,359
            2002 – 20,221
            2003 – 22,216
            2004 – 23,457
            2005 – 24,876
            2006 – 28,422
            2007 – 29,144
            2008 – 29,627
            2009 – 23,162
            2010 – 19,173
            2011 – 22,446
            2012 – 25,922
            2013 – 31,316
            2014 – 24,391

            When exactly was this hipster invasion?

            • If you haven’t seen the demographic shift in attendance you either haven’t been paying attention or you don’t go to games. This is weird – like its an insult to suggest that a large group of young people that live downtown and the waterfront condo land have found baseball and are attending games. yeesh.

            • I would think it was 2013 for the BJ’s

            • 2006 to 2009

        • actually I think being a ‘hipster’ means you are against popular things, at least that’s what Portlandia has taught me

  9. A lot of reliable parties are now reporting that Toronto interests (and any potential ownership groups that would relocate) have become less interested in the Bills given that the lease forces a relocating order to serve out a lame-duck period of six years in Ralph Wilson Stadium. If Tanenbaum et al want to sit and watch their NFL asset rot into a festering mess, I suppose they could still go for it. But I wouldn’t count on that being an obstacle to grass (even if it is floated as one), and NFL football in Toronto won’t be an obstacle for six years unless the league wants to expand (not relocate) there, or unless they are going to resurrect the shit sandwich of an experiment that was Bills in Toronto.

    • Can’t see 6 years being a terrible issue – you are going to need at least 5 years to build a new stadium (find the land, design, get through the various approval processes, actually build it, etc) and it really becomes a toss up of whether you play in Buffalo or try to find somewhere in Toronto. Skydome sort of would work as a temporary place, but at that cost of pissing of baseball (not just the fans but one would have to believe MLB itself would like to see the turf gone and real grass in). But really, an NFL season is 16 games, so only 8 home games, easy enough for the Toronto fans to trek to Buffalo for 8 games a year until for the first 6 years.

      • Skydome is about 100,000 times worse for NFL football than it is for baseball, and you’re talking the PR / image nightmare of an empty stadium for 5+ years while the owner is forced to sit there and wait for the expiration date. And all this while they try to get Toronto authorities to introduce a stadium into the already-giant clusterfuck of traffic patterns.

        I can’t see enough excited Toronto fans hustling their way down there to fill what is going to be a wasteland of a stadium. Maybe 1/4 of the fanbase is from Ontario, and even among them not all of these want to see the team move.

        It was bad for the NFL when the Mayflower trucks moved the Colts under cover of night. Your’e telling me a WNY native GM is going to sit and watch a long, painful process of the team being extracted from Buffalo from a die-hard fanbase? Maybe money solves most issues, but there is a reason most owners are not in favor of relocation and only the giant dicks like Jerry Jones have even hinted at it.

        • Is it ideal? No.

          But the problem with the Buffalo Bills is that there is no ideal solution.

          Buffalo is a dying area, and the struggles with attendance show it. The deal with Rogers for the game a year would never have happened with a healthy franchise. If the NFL wasn’t so socialist with all the revenue sharing, Buffalo would have been gone 20 years ago.

          No sensible person is going to spend a billion or more for a team to keep that team in Buffalo with an aging, sub-standard stadium where at best the proposals are band-aids to keep the bare minimum of a stadium in the 2010′s.

          Which isn’t to say the Toronto will get the team. But anyone who does buy it will be looking to move it as soon as that 6 year window is up, at which point Toronto may be the least worst options.

  10. That should have been “relocating owner,” not “order.”

  11. Yeah, this is definitely a ploy by MLSE to get the feds to essentially give them the purchase price for the Argos. Otherwise, they can go out and say, “well, we could have saved the oldest team in North American sport, but the feds didn’t live up to the promises…”

    I’m sure Ottawa will find a way to cave and make this work while still saving face. Otherwise, I don’t see how Rogers has any obligation to the Argos beyond the current lease.

  12. Good God, I don’ t give a damn about the Argos other than the fact that A) I want them out of the dome so we can have grass, and B) if the purchase of them by MLSE helps the odds of an NFL team coming to Toronto then I’d love to see it.

  13. The Argos at BMO just makes too much sense. I suspect this is MLSE forcing the feds’ hands a bit. Without the Argos we’d never see Stampeders games in TO. Surely we can’t have that. When would Calgary players ever get to experience a truly cosmopolitan city?

  14. I give Quebecois peeps a ton of props for their rebelious, protesting ways. They don’t really like to sit around and take shit.

    Anyway, to get that ten milli..kickstarter, anyone?

    • “They don’t really like to sit around and take shit.”

      Yeah, actually, that’s precisely what they like to do. (The “rebellious, protesting” types, I mean, not all Quebecers.)

  15. Here’s a brilliant idea, renovate the Skydome (yep, Skydome) for football after you build a kick ass park for baseball. Rogers will probably own all 3 teams in the end anyway. On the funding for the baseball stadium, they can threaten to move the team Montreal to secure it. That way MLSE can STFU about BMO Field which, incidentally, was pretty much given ( 99 year leases I think) to them for nothing by the City, kinda like Ricoh was. Can’t we cancel the MLSE lease and suggest that they engage in sex and travel? When BMO was initially approved and the city tossed in the cash the stipulation was that it was supposed to be for Football and that other game where they kick the ball around and never score. Holy snapping arseholes, the sports team owners in this city are pantloads!!!!

  16. Racism is racism , left or right it is still a duck……What Parti Quebecois wanted was racism, what MLSE wants is financial greed. There is a difference.
    Harper, Trudeau, same crap, different philosophy. Just one may use less lubricant.
    Now back to baseball, not interested in grass or astroturf. Easier on the knees , so acknowledged for grass. Baseball owners agree.
    As a person who went to games. i recognize that when Rogers decides to allow grass in the stadium for 82 games a year over the 8 to 10 games a year for CFL, than I will be happier.
    This crusade is as successful as the last one almost a millennium ago. Is anything really resolved , but a bunch of noise, waste of time and life.

  17. This is a baseball blog. I’m sure we all have different politics. It would probably be best if we did not discuss those politics, save for when politics collides with our baseball. Which in this case means for someone to give MLSE $10 million so that we can have grass at the Rogers Centre.

  18. This exact same thing happened with the ACC where they threatened it would be either hockey or basketball only (don’t remember which, and too lazy to research right now) unti lte other side agreed. This was before they were both under the MLSE umbrella.

    In other words, it’ll work itself out, and the Argos will be at BMO.

    • The ACC was basketball only, the Leafs were going to build their new MLG on top of Union Station right beside it.

      There was no agreement to make it multipurpose, the Leafs just bought the Raptors and therefore now owned their already, nearly completed new arena.

  19. Could the nfl work in Toronto? Is there enough fans to turn it into a successful franchise? Personally, I’d be pretty pumped for the nfl in Canada but my money is in b.c so the only thing I could support is ratings.

    • The biggest questions, where to tailgate? I don’t think they allow BBQ’s in the underground parking

      • The thing about tailgating…the reason they tailgate at most NFL stadiums is because the stadium is hard to access and in the middle of nowhere. So fans would have to show up early to park, and found a better way to kill the hours between parking and game time than twiddling their thumbs. It’s only become part of the “experience” because they fans are making the best of a really shitty situation.

        If a NFL stadium is built downtown (the Rogers Centre, a curse on its multi-purpose carcass, is too small to hold one) tailgaiting isn’t necessary. I’d rather go to a bar with my friends pre-game (like I do with the Jays) and be able to get home in something less than three hours than have an “authentic” tailgating experience in Foxboro or Orchard Park or New Fucking Jersey.

        • You might be in the minority there. I much prefer the tailgate to the bar for pregame. Tailgating might have started because of poor location, but it has now become a main attraction for the NFL fan. I’ve been to a few NFL cities for games(, and the ones with no real big parking lot for tailgating have been the shittiest ones, with New Orleans being the one exception.

          • More than fair, but personally I like a place with beer choices and attractive waitresses!

            I tailgated in Oakland once. Wonderful and terrifying.

    • It’s been working super-well so far!

  20. Like everyone else, I want to see grass in the dome.
    But I’m not going to get all worked up about it now.

    Its 3h to Buehrle vs Cobb.
    That is the thing of immediate interest.
    For today, don’t much care about any of the rest of it.

  21. I’m a huge Argos fan as well as a huge Jays fan (#1 and #2 in my sports hiearchy) and I hope that this is just posturing. An Argos move to BMO would be exactly what that team needs (25K a game isn’t bad, and is enough to make the team viable but looks awful in a 50K seat stadium) and would lead, once Rogers takes its time removing its head from its posterior, to grass at the RC.

    But if it all falls apart, the oldest team in Canada becomes homeless and probably rots away, and one of the few Canadian instititutions with coast to coast reach suffers a body blow. This and the potential CFL players strike is a real bummer of a counterweight to my renewed Jays optimism. Fuck.

    • the argos average like 22,000 a game, so I would think seating for 25,000 would be fine

      • It fluctuates – during the Pinball years they drew 28,000 regularly, although that was down to great marketing as much as it was the team doing well. I think you want some scarcity, but not make it so small as you’re turning away gate money, which the CFL lives off.

        I wouldn’t build it much bigger than 28K though. But I honestly think a move to BMO would be a big boon to the team, much as what happened in Montreal – they’ll never be top dog in Toronto, but they’ll have a healthy niche. But no BMO? I start to really worry how they’ll survive.

  22. Got a feeling the Rays are gonna realize how stupid their lineup is tonight once Buehrle is replaced with a righty

    • vs. a righty that lineup basically goes shit-decent-shit-decent-shit, and so forth…kinda difficult to manufacture any runs putting a lineup like that out, and just for the sake of some questionable platoon strategy..Forsthye batting 3rd, really? Even with Buehrle being a lefty?

  23. I hope that piece of trash Lueke comes on in relief and gets massacred by the Jays. That scumbucket deserves non-stop fan harrassment from everyone sitting above the Tampa bullpen.

  24. Just don’t renew the Argos contract and continue with the real grass plan. Simple

  25. sad

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