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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

BMO Field - Toronto FC


Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

BMO Field @ Exhibition Place

170 Princes’ Blvd.

Toronto, ON M6K 3C3



Year Opened: 2007

Capacity: 30,991

 

All For One


The landscape of Toronto FC is changing.  The glory days that culminated in Toronto Football Club being the first Major League Soccer team to secure the trifecta in 2017 of the Voyageurs Cup (Canadian Championship), Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, are gone.  TFC legends Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley have all departed as well as coach Greg Vanney.  The rebuild is now on.  After a few stutter steps, Toronto FC hopes to bring the squad back into playoff contention for the 2024 season.  Playing their first match in 2007, Toronto FC has been crucial for the development of Major League Soccer, paving the way for other Canadian squads CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps FC to take to the pitch.  The strong ownership of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, also owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies, has been critical in the continued success of the franchise.


Since its inception, the home of Toronto FC has been BMO Field.  Located at Exhibition Place, on the site of the former home of the Toronto Blue Jays, Exhibition Stadium, the city owned stadium is preparing to be the smallest host of the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup.  BMO Field was originally built as, and currently retains the moniker of, Canada’s National Soccer Stadium, and has been renovated and expanded numerous times.  It has seen the Grey Cup, MLS Cup and the NHL Centennial Classic and will be expanded temporarily to host its biggest event yet in the World Cup.


Food & Beverage 5

BMO Field offers a solid culinary experience.  There are plenty of different concession stands and plenty of variety for fans.  The Food Junction stands offer standard stadium fare, including popcorn, hot dogs and the like.  Some stands that offer more unique options include Frites, which has a variety of poutine options, Pizza Pizza, the popular Canadian pizza franchise, and Panini, which features the Braised Beef Grilled Cheese, and popular Porchetta Sandwich.  Food trucks are often found past the north end of the pitch and are available during the match.  The beer selection at the King Club outside section 107 is tremendous and features Labatt’s products as well as Mill Street and many other craft brew selections.  Coca-Cola products are the soft drinks of choice and Tim Hortons coffee is also available.  For fans who like to plan out their culinary experience, the BMO Field website provides an excellent accounting of the concession options and where various stands can be found.  There is also a specialty food guide online for those fans who are vegan, vegetarian or have gluten allergies.


Atmosphere 4

Being built in 2007, with an original capacity of 25,000, BMO Field was at the forefront of soccer specific stadiums that took MLS by storm.  Since that time, nearly the entire league has moved to a soccer specific stadium, and as a result the designs have become better and better.  This has left BMO Field a bit behind with regards to physical design.  By no means should BMO Field be replaced, and due to the original design and numerous renovations that have taken place, it does not seem feasible to replicate some of the newer venues.  However, BMO Field remains an excellent soccer venue.  This notion is underlined with BMO Field remaining the National Soccer Stadium and being part of the hosting venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 


BMO Field is located at Exhibition Place, on the grounds of the original Exhibition Stadium.  Treasure hunting fans can find markers for the bases and home plate in the south parking lot.  The exterior is fairly non-descript with clearly separated grandstands on the east and west sides of the pitch with grey and silver accents to the simple structure.  Around the outside of the stadium are a number of marble benches which smartly depict various highlights of the Ex.  Fans will definitely want to head to the northeast corner of BMO Field before entering to check out the TFC Wall of Honour.  A number of TFC accomplishments, both individual and team, are memorialized on the exterior wall in smart looking silver and grey badges on the red siding backdrop.


Inside BMO Field fans will be welcomed by the new “TFC Legends” banners which can be found throughout the stadium.  The new addition to the atmosphere shows portraits of such Toronto FC legends as Dwayne De Rosario, Danny Dichio and Michael Bradley, to name just a few.  The pitch runs from north to south with the videoboard found on the north side.  At the south end, no doubt blowing in the wind, are flags commemorating the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020 Voyageurs Cups as Canadian Champions, the 2017 Supporters’ Shield and 2017 MLS Cup.  The seating area features two tiered seating decks on the east and west sides with some seating and standing room in the north and south ends.  A field level general admission standing area is found in the north end and the supporters sections are found in the south.  The grandstands are covered from the elements with large canopies, courtesy of one of the more recent renovations.  The seats themselves are very simple, in most cases molded plastic buckets that do not move.  Although they are physically not the greatest seats, there is enough legroom provided.


The gameday experience in Toronto is akin to most other MLS experiences.  Soccer usually provides an experience that is not over-produced and generally more organic than other sports.  Local youth groups hold banners on the pitch for the player entrances.  The TFC anthem “The Legend TFC” is played with video before the kickoff.  From that point, the supporters sections take over and provide the atmosphere by singing and chanting and waving flags throughout. 



Neighbourhood 5

BMO Field is located on the grounds of Exhibition Place, between the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd., west of Harbourfront and the most recognizable tourist areas.  Just north of the Gardiner Expressway is Liberty Village, where fans will find an easy walk to numerous pre and post game spots for food and drink.  Some of the options include Local Public Eatery, The Craft Brasserie, Liberty Commons, Left Field Brewery and Brazen Head Irish Pub.


Toronto is a haven for sporting options.  The Toronto Argonauts share BMO Field with Toronto FC and Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies, is on the opposite side of the parking lot also at Exhibition Place.  The annual Honda Indy Toronto is set up, among other races, in July at Exhibition Place The Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays, are all found to the east.  Heading north will bring fans to the University District where the University of Toronto fields Varsity Blues squads in football, basketball and hockey and Toronto Metropolitan University fields basketball and hockey teams, among others.  At the north edge of the city is York University, where Toronto FC II and York United FC play as well as the York Lions hockey, basketball and football teams among others.  The Canadian Open tennis tournaments are also at York.  Other tourist options include the Harbourfront and Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower and Hockey Hall of Fame to scratch the surface.  Exhibition Place is also home to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Canadian National Exhibition.  The Budweiser Stage is found on the opposite side of Lakeshore.  For fans wishing to stay near BMO Field, Hotel X is very close, but very pricey.  Heading east offers more options that are a little more affordable.


Fans 5

The fan support that Toronto FC has enjoyed over the years is pretty remarkable.  The majority of Toronto FC’s existence has been marred with horrible squads on the pitch and very little in the way of winning.  For a short period, this changed, culminating in the 2016, 2017 and 2019 MLS Cup appearances.  A return to rebuilding has seen a bit of a dip in attendance, but the support over the years has been terrific.  As of this writing, Toronto FC are averaging almost 25,500 fans per match for the 2024 season, up slightly from the previous season, and yet to enjoy the nicer spring and summer weather.  The last two seasons have seen Toronto FC ranked 6th in MLS in attendance.  A number of the teams ranking ahead of Toronto FC enjoy the huge capacities of NFL stadiums.  The fanbase is very diverse as Toronto is a very International city and they are very passionate and knowledgeable about soccer.  The Toronto FC Supporter Groups are among the best and most passionate in MLS and have pushed the team to have among the most consistent support in the league.

 

Access 4

BMO Field is located on the grounds of Exhibition Place. Getting to Exhibition Place can be a challenge, as anything in Toronto can be. The Ex is immediately south of the Gardiner Expressway. Although fans may think this is the quickest way to drive to the Ex, often a longer route on Lakeshore Blvd is the way to go, especially for those coming from the west.


There are a number of parking spots available for fans at Exhibition Place. It is important for fans to do some research before heading out to see the Reds. At times there are other events taking place at the Ex and parking is a real challenge. Even at the best of times, parking is not cheap and other options may be the best plan.


For fans who prefer the public transit route, Exhibition Place has some decent public transit options. There is a Go Transit station right by the Ex and this is probably the easiest form of public transit. A walk north of the Ex will bring fans through Liberty Village and eventually to some TTC options. Check out the Go Transit and TTC websites for fares, maps and schedules.


The ticketing window is at gate 1, at the north end of BMO Field. Lineups are not usually an issue. Security is what you would expect now in this day and age of sports security, including walk through metal detectors. With security protocols and procedures in constant flux, Stadium Journey strongly suggests visiting the Toronto FC and BMO Field websites for the most up-to-date security information before heading to the arena.


Getting around BMO Field is not too difficult and concourses are fairly spacious. Washroom facilities are also adequate for this venue.



Return on Investment 3

Tickets for Toronto FC seem to have become more affordable, with tickets starting around $45 and some resale seats available for less than that.  Tickets go above the $200 mark for the lower bowl.  These prices have come back down a bit, but upper deck seats can still go for $100 and above.  Parking is pretty expensive at over $30 and fans must use the self-park “Green P” app to purchase parking.  Concession prices are about what one would expect for a major league team.  According to the 2022 Fan Cost Index, Toronto FC are the seventh most expensive experience, above league average. That being said, a Toronto FC match is a whole lot of fun and is one of the best experiences in MLS, but you will pay for it.


Extras 3

An extra mark for the Danny Dichio song. Every match at the 23:14 mark, the supporters belt out the Danny Dichio song, in honor of Toronto FC’s first ever goal scored by Danny Dichio.


An extra mark for the investments made by MLSE to field the best possible team in Toronto. A reward to the fans, who greatly suffered in the early years of TFC.


An extra mark for the improvements and investment made in BMO Field.


Final Thoughts

What the future holds for BMO Field in preparation for the World Cup will be interesting.  In the meantime, Toronto FC and BMO Field offer one of the best experiences in Major League Soccer, located in a fantastic, international city, with some of the best tourist attractions in the world. 


Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on YouTube, Twitter, Threads and Instagram @profan9.



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