We have learned a lot recently about the Canadian Premier League. Winnipeg and Hamilton are sure things, and there will be many more to follow. Halifax, Quebec City, and Edmonton also appear to be close. Personally, I would love to have a long-term vision where the league establishes itself in every market where there is junior hockey, but we must learn to crawl before we can walk.
For the league to reach its fullest potential there needs to be a team in Toronto. This doesn’t have to happen immediately, but within five years of launch would be ideal. We still have no idea how that is going to manifest itself – will it be a reincarnation of TFC II? Hopefully not. Or will it be an independently owned franchise that stands on its own?
These questions, when answered, will give us all a sense of understanding, and by that I mean where the team locates within the city. There are many neighbourhooods that would fit the bill, and all of them for different reasons. Let’s have a look at some of the candidates and examine the pros and cons of each site.
This stadium has an ideal location within Liberty Village and is a short walk from BMO Field. A little financial investment would make it the perfect ground for a club wishing to establish itself within the market. It is close to multiple public transit options and the neighbourhood has plenty of parking. There are also many establishments to satisfy every supporters’ pre- and post-game desires. On the flip side, rugby’s Toronto Wolfpack have already made the stadium home, so there would have to be an arrangement worked out. Hopefully that ship has not sailed.
The chances are remote but if MLSE were to involve itself in the CPL, this would be a possibility. Aesthetically, this would not be a good look in the beginning because the stadium would be more than half empty. The long term goal would be to grow into it. But with World Cup 2026 on the horizon, there might be even more renovations and expansions planned. Even if MLSE were to be a factor, I would hope that they would have other ideas and give the team its own proper home.
Monarch Park Stadium:
There are a few people in the know that would love to see this cozy locale as the eventual landing spot. Residing on the property of Monarch Park Collegiate, it would better service the eastern population of the city and the GTA. A very reasonable lease could also be worked out with the school board. It is a short walk from the subway and is convenient for those who commute from the suburbs in the north and the east via the Don Valley Parkway and the 401. Depending on match times, it could be a slog for those driving in from the west. But hey, you can’t be everything to everyone.
This is where the Toronto Argonauts should’ve staked claim many years ago before they decided to piggyback on the city’s other sports franchises. There is plenty of land with an abundance of parking on the site. It is convenient for both the downtowners, via the new subway stop, and the suburbanites, via Highways 400, 407, and 401. On the other hand, this is the location where the most investment in the stadium itself would be needed. There really isn’t a solid bare bones facility to work with. They would almost need to build from scratch.
Some Other Sites That May be Considered:
Centennial Park, Birchmount Stadium, Varsity Stadium, Central Tech Collegiate, Ontario Soccer Centre
There is a lot to work with here. Our city has plenty of viable options and there are possibly even a few that I have failed to mention. Whomever emerges as the ownership group has to make the right choice for the location in order to maximize the growth potential.
The franchise deserves it. Canadian soccer needs it.
By William Jamieson