The Toronto Argonauts Have No Place on the Pitch
I agree with the TFC fans when they say the Toronto Argonauts have no place on their pitch.
It’s a shocking statement, especially, coming from the same man who authored 2 articles last year about how BMO Field Stadium is the perfect landing spot for the Toronto Argonauts. Well I’m about to confuse you even more… BMO Field is still the perfect home for the Argos. But they should not be playing on the grass. Having 3 sports (Soccer, Rugby and Football) played on that surface would destroy it. By October you’d be looking at a field similar to that of the Washington Redskins. Painted dirt and all.
So the solution is to change the surface to a synthetic turf. False. That won’t work either. MLSE has committed to installing a state of the art Hybrid natural turf in preparation for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Even with the Hybrid surface the field may not withstand the constant painting and removing of lines.
Webley Stadium, one of the busiest multi-use facilities in the world, hosted multiple NFL games interspersed with Rugby and Soccer. Many fans claimed that they could see the football lines during Rugby and Soccer matches. By the time they held the fourth event in just over 30 days fans even complained of what appeared to be green painted grass. MLSE plans to use the same Hybrid surface that did not appear to withstand the rigors of the same 3 sports hosted at BMO Field.
The current proposed plan has all sports playing on the same pitch/field. Lines will be painted and removed as required. CFL end zones would be synthetic turf butted up to the natural surface. Based on the Wembley example, this plan is rot with holes. Soccer fans don’t want to see Football lines, Football fans don’t want multiple surface types and we haven’t even talked to the players. Not to mention the weather factors when it comes to maintaining the field during colder temperatures of late October and November.
The solutions is a very simple one. TFC plays on their Hybrid natural turf, while The Argonauts play on a Synthetic turf. TFC won’t have to deal with the extra paint polluting the pristine natural pitch they’ve become accustomed to or the wear and tear of 9 football games. The Argonauts won’t have to worry about the ad placement or stripping the colour from their logos and get one surface.
The key is the protective layer between the Synthetic Turf of the Argos and the Natural surface of TFC. Using protective coverings is not new. Almost every multi-use venue uses some type of protective product to lay over the playing surface for uses not suitable for the field type. The most common uses are for concerts in large stadiums and basketball in hockey arenas. In recent years we have even seen the same type of systems used for the NHLs Stadium Series. Going back to Wembley stadium, they worked with a company to develop such a product for use as far back as 1991. In 2007 Wembley used protective tiles as a base for the Race of Champions, which saw an asphalt road built on top of the tiles. Extreme examples aside, this type of product has been proven to protect the turf underneath even under severe pressure.
The protective translucent tiles are laid directly over the grass and are locked together using various clips and/or overlapping edges. They are designed to allow enough light to penetrate the grass to preserve it for 6 to 7 days. A Local distributer estimated that for this purpose 4 to 5 days would be the maximum amount of time. The synthetic turf system would be laid over top and stretching out for the additional end zones. Seating in these areas would have to be retracted for Football.
The Rogers Centre takes conservatively 48 hours to turn around from one sport to another. Terraplas, a world leader in turf protection, estimates that the average tile can cover a soccer field in 8 hours with 21 crew members. Randy Crissinger, a member of Wolfpack Signage (who service Tim Horton’s Field and formerly Rogers Centre), estimates that a CFL Field can be laid in 8 hours or less. Add a 50% contingency for seating configuration and signage, we are looking at a 24 hour turnaround from Soccer to Football and vice versa.
MLSE is reportedly interested in hosting an outdoor NHL game. That means they will have to commit to a turf protection system regardless. That would negate the extra money required for purchase. Additional cost savings could be found in not having to paint and remove CFL lines, logos and advertisements. With Rugby and Soccer lines being very similar and minimal less damage would be done to the hybrid natural surface, cutting down on maintenance.
Laying down their own turf means the Argonauts will never have to lay a cleat on the BMO Field pitch.
Finally! Excellent piece, Clay.Talk about a win-win solution. You should forward this to everyone on city council, MLSE, and the major media outlets. I am glad you pointed out The Winter Classic; MLSE is going to have to get a turf protection system regardless. We can get TFC people on board with a sensible solution like this.
Keep up the good work!
Sounds like the right solution.
I think this will happen. Great explaination and a great option for everyone. As a football fan I don’t care if the game is on field turf or grass. I just want to see my team in an outdoor stadium with a good crowd.