The Irony? Rogers asked the Argos to stay at the dome when they first purchased it.
[url=http://www.thevoyageurs.org/forums/topic/6119-york-stadium-argos-officially-pull-out/]http://www.thevoyageurs.org/forums/topi ... -pull-out/[/url]
Wow, $5 million increase (after they already had a sweet tax rebate by contributing to York) and guess who bails for the big empty. Man this is utterly unbelievable how toronto just keep screwing up what should be a done deal. 25,000 stadium for MLS and CFL and Canadian Soccer should be completely feasible. Just don't understand this at all..
Argos drop York stadium deal
Pre-construction costs rising
Can play rent-free at Rogers Centre
Toronto's football Argonauts are expected to announce as early as today that they are pulling out of the York University stadium deal.
With the Rogers Centre trying to persuade the reigning Grey Cup champions to stay at the downtown retractable dome stadium with a sweetheart, rent-free deal, Argo owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon are facing rising costs at York.
Originally budgeted at $70 million, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $35 million, it's believed costs have already climbed upwards of $75 million before a shovel has been stuck in the ground.
The Argos owners were scheduled to contribute $20 million to the stadium through a charitable donation to the York University Foundation, but they have also agreed to cover any unexpected costs or financial overruns.
In essence, Sokolowski and Cynamon could have ended up putting upwards of $30 million into the stadium for fewer than a dozen events per season, with York University still owning the structure.
The Argos were to have moved into the new York facility for the 2007 season but instead they are expected to announce plans to remain at the Rogers Centre and host the '07 Grey Cup game at the dome.
Whether the York stadium will still go ahead is now unclear. The Argos were only expected to need 10 dates a year, with the Canadian Soccer Association and Toronto Lynx soccer club to fill up much of the rest of the calendar.
In theory, the 25,000-seat project could still be downsized to 15,000 seats or less, and thus cost far less to build.
The stadium is committed to co-hosting the 2007 FIFA world youth soccer tournament with Edmonton, but FIFA only requires a minimum 10,000-seat venue for the event.
Whether the federal government, which is to contribute $27 million to the stadium, and the province, on the hook for $8 million, will continue to financially assist the project without the Argos is also unclear.
The news that the Argos won't be moving north will come as a disappointment to fans who looked forward to a cozy, open-air stadium, but it will be welcomed by those who believed the decision to abandon the downtown core was fatally flawed.
Originally, the football franchise hoped to locate a new stadium on the old site of the now-demolished Varsity Stadium, on the grounds of the University of Toronto.
When that plan died, the focus moved to York, with the project officially launched in October.
A month later, however, Rogers Communications, owners of the Toronto Blue Jays, acquired the SkyDome for $25 million.
They have since completed extensive renovations, including the installation of new turf and splashy video boards.
The Argos, who had purchased their own artificial playing surface last season and used it when Sportsco owned the dome and charged them annual rent in excess of $400,000, quickly struck a deal with Rogers to use the dome's new turf and were given a far better selection of home dates for the 2005 Canadian Football League season than Sportsco gave them last year.
Indeed, the Argos were forced last season to play their playoff game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a Friday night because the dome had been rented to the Wiggles, a children's group.
There has also been speculation that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Air Canada Centre, the NHL's Leafs and NBA's Raptors, was interested in purchasing a Major League Soccer franchise and locating it at the new stadium at York.
MLSE was at one point involved with the Argos in the Varsity Stadium project.
As well, there have been rumours about either MLSE or Rogers buying a piece of the Argos for months.
With MLSE now having announced plans for a $350 million commercial and residential development on the parcel of land immediately west of the Air Canada Centre, the area north of the Gardiner Expressway and adjacent to Union Station is expected to become an even greater magnet for sports and entertainment dollars.
For the Argos, the announcement of that project makes it even riskier to locate away from this sports hub and market the football team more specifically to families living in the suburbs.
With the Jays, Maple Leafs, Raptors and even the lacrosse Rock all playing in the downtown core, the Argos will stay in the thick of the sports action at the dome.