Toronto Argonauts' days at Rogers Centre numbered after signing new lease

The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Sep. 20 2013, 10:40 AM EDT
Last updated Friday, Sep. 20 2013, 12:40 PM EDT

The Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Blue Jays will be tenants at the Rogers Centre for four more years. After that, the CFL football team is on its own.

The Argonauts announced a new lease agreement through 2017 but made it clear there will be no new deals beyond that date.

"We are pleased to have concluded what has been a very amicable negotiation with the Argonauts resulting in an agreement that is fair for both the Blue Jays and the Argonauts," said Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre president and CEO Paul Beeston in a statement released Friday morning.

"The length of the deal allows the Argonauts a reasonable period of time to pursue other stadium options while allowing us sufficient time to plan the logistics of various stadium improvements including the installation of a grass playing surface for baseball at Rogers Centre.”

According to the release, the Argos have the option of terminating the deal early should they find a new stadium to call home.

Argonauts executive chairman and CEO Chris Rudge said the team looks forward to "developing and implementing a plan for a new home".

The CFL club has reportedly considered sharing BMO Field with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.-owned Toronto FC of Major Soccer League. However, significant renovations to the facility would be required in order to accomodate football.

Tim Leiweke, CEO of MLSE, said in a conference call earlier this month that renovation of BMO is being considered to accommodate football.

A decade ago, discussions took place between the Argos and University of Toronto to move into downtown Varsity Stadium. Situated on the subway line, Varsity could have been renovated to accommodate the CFL (as McGill University’s Percival Molson Memorial Stadium was for the Montreal Alouettes). Instead, U of T tore down most of the building to favour track and field.