The University of Toronto has informed the Toronto Argonauts that they can no longer use the practice facility at the Mississauga campus.
Rumours surrounding the future of the Toronto Argonauts have made headlines in sports outlets across the country. Tim Leiweke, the owner of Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment, is believed to have plans to purchase the Argonauts and move them from their home at the Rogers Centre to a retrofitted BMO field, complete with a roof that will cost an estimated $120 million. The proposed venue would benefit the CFL squad as well as its current occupants, the Toronto Football Club, with its English Premiere League–style stadium that can be easily converted into a football field to accommodate both Toronto franchises.
As Toronto fans await the inevitable move, another issue has come to light: the current practice facility at UTM, which has been home to the CFL team since 1996.
“UTM and the Argos explored the possibility of extending our relationship as the team’s training camp and practice site; however, we didn’t reach a mutually satisfactory agreement given their and our needs in the future,” says Mark Overton, UTM’s dean of student affairs.
The news comes as a surprise to the Toronto sports scene and the UTM community alike. “They have significantly bolstered the reputation of the gym and, as staff, we’ll be sad to see them leave,” says RAWC employee and second-year psychology major Nolan Anderson. “I know that management has always worked hard to foster a strong and collaborative relationship with the team.”
About a year ago, it was rumoured that the Argos would make Varsity Field their new home after the impending expiry of their lease at the Rogers Centre, strengthening their relationship with U of T. The rumour about the team’s new home later subsided, but there was still no doubt about where the team would practice.
With this recent revelation, the team will now be in the market for a new practice and playing facility. The Argos may have the option to occupy the KIA Training Ground, the current 40,000-square-foot practice facility used by the Toronto FC in the Downsview area, but this option will only be made available to them once the sale is made to MLSE.
As for UTM, the campus will lose a friendly football partnership that has lasted nearly two decades, as well as bragging rights over the Scarborough and St. George campuses in terms of professional athlete sightings.
While the UTM campus will gain some space, the game plan for the South Field is currently undecided. UTM students should expect the area to be further developed in the future. “We don’t have specific plans for the site where the portables used by the Argos were located,” says Overton. “That general area has been zoned for potential use in UTM’s master plan for several years, but there’s no specific use or funding associated with it at this time.”
Though the Argos will no longer use UTM’s practice facility, Overton is proud of the partnership between the two parties. “We’d like to thank the Argos and wish them well,” he says. “I know that our community will continue to be supporters and fans.”
At press time, the Argos’ communications director, Eric Holmes, declined to comment.