TORONTO -- As widely expected, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced on Tuesday that BMO Field - home of the league's first Canadian club, Toronto FC - will be the venue for MLS Cup Final to be held on November 21, 2010.
This marks the first time in the 15-year history of MLS that this match will take place outside of the United States.
Garber cited BMO Field's conversion from artificial turf to natural grass and Toronto being a "big event city" as two of the reasons why the venue was chosen to stage the premier MLS event.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer, Tom Anselmi, said "this is great news for soccer fans in the GTA." He mentioned the $3 million investment in converting BMO Field to grass and the addition of 1,400 new seats to the stadium. He believes the announcement will be a "huge motivator" for Toronto to achieve its first postseason berth in its fourth season.
Toronto Mayor David Miller thanked Commissioner Garber for bringing the game and all the festivities that surround it to the city. He called the story of the Reds an "extraordinary success" as the club worked with all levels of government to achieve its goals off the field.
The Mayor went on to say that one of the goals when the city supported the construction of BMO Field was to help grow the sport in Canada. He believes as a parent of soccer playing kids that "MLS Cup will be a statement that all Canadian youth can aspire" to play the game at the highest level. The Mayor also singled out a gathering of passionate Toronto supporters for particular praise as they looked on at the press conference, which took place at Gate 5 of Air Canada Centre.
MLS Cup Final is considered the jewel piece in the league's football showcase. It is the competition that takes place at the end of MLS Cup Playoffs when the winners of the Eastern and Western brackets meet in a one-off final to decide the league champion.
MLS Cup is viewed as more prestigious than the Supporters' Shield, which is awarded to the team with the most points at the end of regular season.
The 2009 edition took place at Seattle's Qwest Field, which marked the climax of an extremely well received foray into the Pacific Northwest for MLS. Seattle Sounders FC set various attendance records throughout the season, and played host to 46,000 fans for the championship match, in which Real Salt Lake edged out Los Angeles Galaxy on penalties to win their first MLS Cup.
Toronto in contrast will have roughly 22,000 seats at BMO Field. But Commissioner Garber stressed that ticket revenue from a smaller venue is of secondary importance to having the league's biggest game of the year in a city and stadium that embraces the sport and MLS.
Garber later mentioned that the league was close to moving the Cup Final to the stadium of the top seeded finalist starting from 2010. However, an email from Anselmi at MLS Cup Final 2009, describing Toronto's recent warming trends in November, helped to change the league's mind and award Toronto the event.