The Toronto Maple Leafs liked partaking in this year’s Winter Classic so much, they’re hoping to land one of their own.
The Leafs are reportedly “in line” to be the first-ever Canadian host for the Classic, according to sources of Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, and aiming to land the league’s signature event during the franchise’ 100th anniversary season in 2016-17 — at BMO Field, home of MLS outfit Toronto FC.
Here’s more, from Sportsnet:
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has held high-level discussions with the municipal, provincial and federal government and believes that they are all on board with renovating the six-year-old [BMO Field] stadium, according to president and CEO Tim Leiweke. The driving force behind the proposed expansion is a desire to hold major events like the Winter Classic and NHL sources indicate that Toronto is in line to land the signature outdoor game should the building’s capacity be increased.
The biggest issue to be worked out for the project is determining how it is financed. BMO Field was built in 2007 for a little more than $60-million and Leiweke acknowledged that the cost of expanding it would likely end up being at least twice that much.
BMO Field’s current capacity is around 22,000 for sporting events (like soccer) and 28,000 for concerts. It’s owned by the City of Toronto and would require a major facelift in order to host an event of the Classic’s status, especially with regards to seating — BMO would likely need to at least double in capacity.
From a participation standpoint, appearing in two Winter Classics isn’t anything new. Pittsburgh, who visited Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo to take on the Sabres in the inaugural 2008 Classic, hosted one of their own at Heinz Field in 2011. Philly played against the Bruins at Fenway in 2010 and got the ’12 Classic, while Detroit played Chicago at Wrigley in 2009 and is now hosting the latest edition of the Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s Big House.
As mentioned above, though, Toronto would be the first-ever Canadian host. The team already broke new ground by becoming the first-ever Canadian participant in the Winter Classic this year.