After a Toronto FC (TFC) game – especially after the home team has won – it’s fairly common for the party to move from BMO Field to the tunnel just north of it that runs under the rail tracks from the entrance of Exhibition Place to the northern platform beside Liberty Village.
The tunnel is used by thousands of soccer fans, who are often chanting and singing along the way, to get to and from games. It has become a loud tradition. A handful of videos can be found on YouTube demonstrating just how rowdy things can get, but typically there aren’t incidents.
However, with the team’s growing popularity and the recent BMO Field expansion that added 10,000 extra seats, some fans worry that the tunnel has become too badly clogged – or even a safety hazard.
Graeme Rivers described it as “insane.” He has been a TFC fan since day one and has seen the crowds in this small tunnel grow along with the fan base and the stadium.
“If there was ever an issue in (the tunnel) of any kind, there’s no way of getting out,” he told Global News.
If people in the tunnel are alarmed by something – even so much as a startling sound or a fight – Rivers said he worried about “people getting trampled” in the rush to get out.
He’s not alone in his concerns about the capacity of the tunnel.
Whether citing safety or inconvenience, several fans can be seen discussing the troubles with the tunnel in a year-old thread on an UrbanToronto.ca forum.
“The tunnel has been an issue for years,” one poster wrote.
“It is frustrating to see no progress on it, or Exhibition station in general. It is absolutely ridiculous and has become so much worse this year.”
Another claimed that even half an hour after the game, “it still took us over 20 minutes to emerge on the other side.”
As a larger BMO Field accommodates more big events like this past Sunday’s Grey Cup championship and the NHL Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day, there is concern the infrastructure isn’t keeping up.
“We work with the Toronto Police Service and the City of Toronto events staff to manage it proactively ahead of time,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, noting that GO Transit would be running two extra trains after Wednesday’s MLS Conference Final game.
The regional transit agency said it’s working on a permanent fix, which might include options such as a wider tunnel or an additional access way.
“We’re looking at all of that to make it easier for people,” said Aikins.
But before Metrolinx does that, the agency said its’ priority is electrifying that stretch of the GO rail line. Aikins said work to alleviate the strain on the Exhibition GO station tunnel will begin some time after that.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.