TORONTO -- Work began early Monday morning at BMO Field as the grass for Toronto FC's new pitch arrived by truck from Cookstown, Ontario. The full pitch should be laid by the end of day on Tuesday.
The total budget for the project was around $5.5. The cost to replace the Field Turf at BMO Field was $3.5 million. $1.2 million was spent to upgrade Allan Lamport Stadium with a winter bubble and there will also be an $800,000 investment in another artificial turf soccer field in the city.
The arrival of the grass is the final stage in a project that has seen work ongoing at BMO Field throughout the winter, starting with the digging up of the turf in late November.
"We dug down about 18 inches to put in an aeration system and then laid gravel on top with miles and miles of tubing for the heating system," said Bob Hunter, Executive Vice President, Venues & Entertainment, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
"Three or four inches of topsoil were added and what you are seeing today is the final piece with the thick cut sod being brought in. It will be all greened up and looking great in about two and a half weeks. The heat will be turned on to trick the grass into thinking the summer is here, and the weather forecast has also been kind to us."
"We have the ability now to maintain a finely tuned field because we can add air underneath it to keep it dry and also suck moisture out of the pitch. Our pitch should be the same standard as pitches in the English Premier League."
The introduction of a grass pitch has also seen an increased level of interest from teams around the world wanting to come and play friendly matches in Toronto. "My phone has been ringing a lot more frequently," said Paul Beirne, Toronto FC's Senior Director of Business Operations.
"Now that people are aware of the money that has been spent to put down the Cadillac of grass pitches, there is a lot of interest, but most importantly we need to have a high quality pitch for our league games. We are not going to pack this summer full of friendly matches because we want to take a conservative approach with the grass and make sure that when we are playing league matches it is up to par."