TORONTO – The last row of precast concrete was installed Friday night as construction of BMO Field’s big expansion reached a major milestone while workers race to meet a tight May deadline.
Canada’s national soccer stadium has been revised with over $100 million in new additions – most notably a second level to the east stand that will provide an additional 8400 seats, luxury suites and lounges. A second phase, the installation of a roof, will begin in the fall and is expected to be complete by May of 2016. The final phase would see the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts move in, but that deal remains in limbo.
READ MORE: BMO Field expansion construction begins
Crews have been working around the clock for most of the winter – including the bitter cold of February – to meet a May 1 deadline. Construction began at the completion of the Major League Soccer season in October and is being funded almost entirely by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment with the exception of $10 million coming from the city of Toronto in the form of a loan.
Friday night’s milestone means new seats can soon be installed. Capacity, previously listed at 22,591, will reach approximately 30,000.
The increase in supply, however, hasn’t softened demand for Toronto FC tickets. In fact, neither has another frustrating season without a first-ever playoff appearance. A representative for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment told Global News Monday that 18,000 of a target 19,000 season seats have been sold.
That’s an increase of approximately 3,000 on the ‘bloody big‘ 2014 season that saw England international Jermain Defoe come and go.
WATCH BELOW: Toronto FC TV’s March 14 construction update
BMO Field employees, including concession staff, will be extra busy once they replace the construction crews. Eleven Major League Soccer matches, two Gold Cup matches and the entire Pan Am Games rugby tournament – when the facility will be given the nostalgic title ‘Exhibition Stadium’ – are just some of the confirmed events that could enjoy the increased capacity between May and August.
Toronto FC’s home debut is scheduled for May 8 – after playing their first seven matches on the road – just days following the facility’s expected handover.