NEW YORK (March 30, 2010) -- Major League Soccer will host its premier event, MLS Cup, in Canada for the first time when the passionate fans of Toronto, the fifth largest city in North America, welcome the League's 15th championship match to BMO Field on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET (Live on ESPN and Telefutura).
"Toronto and the Province of Ontario have proven to be a vibrant market for top-level soccer, and we are pleased to present the city's fans another opportunity to enjoy a marquee event and showcase their passion," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "As we saw last year in Seattle, MLS Cup is more than just our championship match; it is a four-day celebration of the world's game in North America. We believe Toronto will be a superb backdrop for the festivities."
Hailed as Canada's national soccer stadium, BMO Field is the home of Toronto FC and will be the ninth venue to host the prestigious event. It served as the setting for the 2008 MLS All-Star Game, has played host to international soccer giants Real Madrid and Benfica, and hosted the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Ongoing renovations to Canada's soccer mecca will see capacity increased to 21,800 spectators with the addition of a new North End stand and a natural grass field. The Kentucky Blue Grass will replace artificial surface that had been in use since its opening. These improvements are scheduled to be completed by April 15.
Since the inception of Toronto FC in 2007, soccer fans in Canada's largest city have shown overwhelming support and fervor for their hometown "Reds," selling out every home match at BMO Field.
"We're excited to host MLS Cup 2010, one of Major League Soccer's pinnacle events. This is great news for soccer fans in Toronto and a tremendous benefit for our city," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "We're looking forward to making MLS Cup Weekend in Toronto a celebration of the beautiful game in an authentic, credible soccer environment."
Anselmi added that hosting MLS Cup will promote and profile Toronto to a larger global audience, creating an economic benefit for the city and supporting tourism. MLS Cup 2009 was broadcast live in more than 120 countries. Toronto FC hosted the Pepsi MLS All-Star Game in 2008, which resulted in an economic benefit of $23 million for the City of Toronto. "We look forward to welcoming soccer supporter groups from the other 15 MLS cities."
Showing their commitment to Toronto FC and the success of Major League Soccer, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has invested $5.5 million in upgrades to BMO Field and the surrounding area. In addition to a new grass pitch and increased seating, the investments will also enhance local community sports amenities to increase public access to year-round soccer facilities. The result of the upgrades will be more than 2,500 hours of community sport use availability.
The hub of activity and the headquarters of MLS Cup in Toronto will be at Maple Leaf Square, a new $500 million retail, commercial and residential development, the largest mixed-use project constructed in the city since 1977. Adjacent to Air Canada Centre and connected to multiple public transit options and climate-controlled underground walkways, Maple Leaf Square is located just 10 minutes from BMO Field. Maple Leaf Square's restaurants including Real Sports Bar & Grill, its apparel store, Real Sports Apparel and its public square will host a number of initiatives and activities for soccer fans.
"I'm delighted to welcome MLS Cup 2010 to Toronto," Toronto Mayor David Miller said. "Toronto FC has the best supporters and one of the best soccer-specific stadiums in the league particularly with the addition of a grass pitch and additional seats. The sport of soccer has a massive fan-base in the Toronto region guaranteeing that no matter who is playing in the final, the atmosphere and excitement at the game and the events around it will be a huge success."
Just as they were this year for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the eyes of the world will once again be on Canada when the 2010 Major League Soccer season culminates in Toronto. Last season's finale, held at Qwest Field in Seattle, drew more than 46,000 fans who saw Real Salt Lake claim their first MLS Cup championship in a thrilling shootout win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Information regarding ticket sales for MLS Cup 2010 will be announced at a later date, but Toronto FC season ticket holders will have priority.
MLS CUP SITES
2009 - Qwest Field (Seattle, Wash.)
2008 - The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2007 - RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
2006 - Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2005 - Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2004 - The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2003 - The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2002 - Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
2001 - Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
2000 - RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1999 - Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
1998 - Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
1997 - RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1996 - Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, and features many stars from the U.S. and around the world. The 16 teams in MLS are: Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union, which is in its inaugural season with the league. Two expansion teams are set for the 2011 season in Portland and Vancouver, which will bring the league total to 18 teams. For more information about MLS, log on to the league's official website at www.MLSsoccer.com.
ABOUT BMO FIELD
BMO Field opened in Exhibition Place in Toronto on April 28, 2007 and serves as the home of Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, the Toronto Nationals of Major League LaCrosse and the Canadian Men's National Soccer Team. It is owned by the city of Toronto and operated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE), owners of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs and the National Basketball Association's Toronto Raptors. It is widely regarded as one of the loudest venues in MLS and has sold out for every Toronto FC game.