Renovated BMO Field impressions

I attended tonight's Toronto FC game to check out the renovated stadium and thought I might share my impressions with the forum.

This was my fourth visit to BMO Field. My first visit was for the very first TFC home game in 2007. The second and third visits were for regular season games for the now-defunct Toronto Nationals field lacrosse team.
I was never impressed with the stadium. It seemed to be done quickly and cheaply imo. It seems like a 21st century version of Ivor Wynne to be honest, and that isn't good.

And now?
Well, definitely a big improvement.

My seat was high up in the upper deck on the east side (Section 209, Row 14, Seat 32 if you want to look it up).
The best part of this seat was that it was free for me. I was standing in line at the box office 10 minutes before the game to buy the cheapest seat I could get when two guys approach and ask those of us in line if we wanted two tickets. I thought they were scalpers, but when they repeated their statement, I turned around. They game me the tickets, saying they weren't going to be using them. Great!
Anyway, the seats in the upper deck on the east side are really no better than those in the Rogers Centre in terms of viewing. They're too far away and too high to feel like you're close to the action. Actually, the best view from these seats is of Lake Ontario and Toronto harbour.

I walked around the rest of the stadium after the first half ended to investigate the views from other parts of the stadium.

South end seats (where those glorious TFC support groups reside) provided a surprisingly impressive view of the field. I would readily buy seats in this area.
West side seats: probably my preferred seating area. The upper deck doesn't seem to go as high as those on the east side. I sat in both the mid area and the upper area on this side and found that the views of the field were excellent at any level.
North side: I didn't actually sit in this area, but it seems to have the same very good view of the field as the south side. Of course, you have to turn around and look up to see the video board since you are sitting right under it.
East side: similar to west side, with the exception of those upper level seats I mentioned earlier. The seats in the first few rows here are just incredible - even better than the corresponding seats on the west side because there are no players' benches in front of you.

I will point out that the only other area beside the upper east side sections that I didn't like were the corners. The perception of the field seems very distorted to me from the view in all four corner sections. I would not choose to sit in those areas.

Other impressions...
The video board is a disappointment imo. Maybe I'm spoiled by the size and clarity of the video board at Rogers Centre, but watching replays was unimpressive.
The concessions are equally disappointing. I'm no foodie, but I do appreciate having options beyond hot dogs and pizza. I didn't notice anything that strayed from those options. Maybe there were other options at the north end, but they didn't seem to stand out.

Overall, I do believe that the fan experience will be better at BMO Field versus Rogers Centre for Argonauts games, but that is mostly due to the smaller capacity and seating closer to the action (which are important of course), but the stadium itself is hardly a major leap forward overall.

Btw, I believe it is forum member dcmoses who has pointed out that this stadium is essentially a newer version of old Exhibition Stadium, and is likely to incur the same criticisms which that stadium received. I have to agree. As an example, the temperature tonight near my home was comfortable - not requiring a jacket when I left for the game. At the stadium, the wind from the lake made layers and/or blankets necessary.

Wow, I can't believe I typed all that!

Perhaps TravelPatB will post his thoughts to confirm or dispute my impressions. I believe he attends far more events than I.
Or anybody who has attended events at both Rogers Centre and BMO Field.

Thanks for that, it's good to hear from people that actually have been to BMO. I wonder if the atmosphere in the upper deck will change when they put the roof on? should make it more intimate and the roof will keep the crowd noise in too.
The roof should cut down the effect of the cold winds blowing in from Lake Ontario.


A few things I thought of after my original post...

  1. I will probably always choose to sit on the west side over the east side if I buy tickets in the side sections. The glare from the setting sun in the west was uncomfortable in the east stands.

  2. I mentioned that the view from the low rows on the east side are probably the best, since there are no player benches in the way as there are on the west side. Well, that is true for soccer matches. I'm sure that for CFL games, the teams will be on opposite sides of the field, so there will be players partially obstructing views on the east side as well as the west side.

  3. The cooler temperature at the location is a mixed blessing. Yes, it was quite cold last night with the wind from the lake. Of course, on hot summer days, a cool breeze from the lake would be welcome.

@slimjim, yes I will be curious to see what effect the roof will have on the overall atmosphere at the stadium. But there was nothing wrong with the atmosphere in the upper east side stands, it was just that the distance from the field was too great, not unlike that at Rogers Centre.

Are there not supposed to be numerous food options now? That is what I saw last week in the lead-up to TFC's home opener.

Hey GreyDragon - I have not been to the ‘new’ BMO yet - but your description sounds pretty accurate. As for food - you should have headed for the north end because they had some great sandwiches at the main concession there (at least last season) with things like very good pulled pork sandwiches.

And last night actually you would have been cold watching that game anywhere in Southern Ontario - not just by the lake. In fact winds were from the northwest last night so you really should have not been getting any cold lake breezes. I was out on my bike just before sunset here in Hamilton last night and it was chilly with overnight frost warnings.

I think the seats in the Upper deck on the east side of BMO - the view is likely not all that different from the view from the last row of THF in Hamilton. The East upper deck in Hamilton has 30 rows and I sat in Row 30 for the Labour Day game. I thought the view was still OK even from way back there. I’ve also sat in the third last row on the West Upper deck at THF and that was even higher but a bit closer to the sidelines because of the steeper incline on the west stands in Hamilton. Still a good view though.

I would expect for football they will have both benches on the same side like they do in other new CFL stadiums so that on one side they can sell on field table seats like they do in Hamilton.

I’ve sat in both the north and south seats at BMO and both are great for soccer - but I’m assuming those seats won’t exist for Argos games as they will be retracted for the endzones.

My friends new season seats are in Row 2 of the new east stands and seems to be a very good view as you mentioned. This is a picture my friend took when he arrived in those seats at the home opener and it really does look like a great view for no matter what sport we are talking about.

There are. If you look at the map I linked it shows where stuff is. Some of the new items are discussed here and here.

Just for comparison of the views. here again Row 2 new upper deck of BMO
ast stands BMO.

Here the view from high on the West side of Tim Horton's Field

And here the view from the last row of the east stands at THF (Row 30)

So comparable (and quite good) sightlines I would say for both.

Thanks for the links Enterprise.

Hmm. Well, I guess my food choices lean more toward, um, healthier selections.
Still mostly high(er) fat selections there. Lots of breads and French-fry based foods. The mini-donuts are filled with Nutella.
I usually opt for grilled chicken wraps or sushi at the Rogers Centre or ACC personally.
To each his own of course.

TravelPat, come back and post your impressions once you've been back to BMO.
I'm hoping to get out to THF this season to see it. Maybe BMO Field is comparable.
But those upper east side sections were just no improvement over the upper deck seats I have at Rogers Centre.
Again, the west side section seats were good right up to the top imo.

I'm pretty sure both sushi and grilled chicken wraps were available at BMO Field in the past but I'm not 100% sure about this year. They do change things from year to year but regardless they have options beyond hot dogs and pizza .

Thanks for your review GD.
I am with you as attending a game a few years back and finding the original stadium on the very cheap, a meccano set version.
What about the new reno is it in the same el cheapo version?

The newer sections are built more substantially than the original it appears - thankfully!
I guess they figured they couldn’t go up higher with the high school bleacher seat setup they originally had on the lower level.
FYI, the stomping on the metallic floor of the lower section to generate noise remains in full force.
Meccano set style - ugh!

One thing is Argo faithful, the ones that do want their own stadium someday, should use BMO as a test meaning I’m sure any Argo “primary tenant” stadium in the future will be an outdoor venue. I know there are a significant group of Argo fans that are fine or even really like, won’t use the word “love” :wink: , the RC for it’s ability to be covered and therefore plushness, but those days are coming to and end so it’s time to move on. Look, if teams like the Broncos, Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Bills can play football in late December and January in those outdoor stadiums, surely Argo fans can learn to be tough again as they used to be and brave the elements. I mean the CFL season only goes to the end of November.

Toronto needs to show it’s toughness for gridiron like it used to and like other teams do around North America. Get some grit back in there. Don’t be like my wife, a fair weather fan, unfortunately. I’ll give TFC fans credit here, they got it started once again.

Other then the view of the field, I an not looking forward to that cramped bowl of a seat with lack of leg room.

Agreed. :expressionless:

Seems to work fine for TFC fans.

So you have never been to the new BMO and complaining already? I don't get you Argo fans, you won't go to the Rogers Centre because it's too big and now you are criticizing BMO?

How about these seats for you?

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I've been to BMO many times. I haven't been in the new upper east stands obviously but I've been in every other stand and have found the seats to be absolutely fine with very reasonable legroom. More than Rogers Centre I think.