With Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts playing at BMO Field together, there has been issues brewing between the teams and their fans that should stop before it gets worse.
After Toronto FC lost the MLS Cup at BMO Field in penalty kicks, Sebastian Giovinco did not hold back when discussing his frustrations about the cramps he suffered in the playoffs. The striker was subbed out by coach Greg Vanney, because both realized he was unable to keep up with the pace of the game.
Giovinco was visibly upset about the situation and he further elaborated on it, when he spoke to the media:
Obviously there are many reasons to explain Giovinco’s cramps. However, when he mentioned the Toronto Argonauts it did not sit well for a couple of players, including Matt Black and Ricky Foley:
This in turn led to a twitter battle between TFC supporters and the Argos players, that shows the growing feud between both Toronto teams. It brings up a serious but unnecessary problem, where both teams are having issues co-existing despite the BMO field grounds crew keeping the field in good condition.
The Grey Cup on November 27th was the final football game of the season to be played at BMO Field. TFC played the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on November 30th on a rainy day.
However, there was nothing brought up about the conditions of the pitch at that time. Then after TFC lost the MLS Cup, the problems with the field suddenly became an issue.
TFC players definitely have a right to complain about the conditions of the field. They had to make the adjustment with a new team coming in, but it does not look good when a player uses the field as an excuse for their performance, or losing a game.
It should also be noted that the City of Toronto owns BMO Field and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment operates out of it. Also, the Argos are owned by Bell and Larry Tanenbaum who own two-thirds of TFC, so the Reds and their fans really have no right to say who should or should not play there.
There are also other situations where MLS teams are secondary tenants like in Seattle where the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders share the same stadium. Similarly, the New York Yankees and New York City FC share Yankee Stadium, while the New England Patriots and New England Recolution share Gilette Stadium.
You do not hear those teams complaining about having to share with a football team or in New York’s case, a baseball team. So it does not look good on either club when they complain about the other team that uses the stadium. Many complexes are used for multiple sports and BMO Field did that in the past with the Pan Am games, where Rugby was played at the same time as TFC.
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With that being said, If you listen to how Giovinco iterates his message (as an Italian it is easier for me to understand his words rather than through an interpreter) he is simply providing an explanation rather than laying blame solely on the Argos. Maybe Giovinco did not find a way to adjust to the changes on the field like the other players.
Maybe there was another reason why he was suffering from cramps. After all, he did had a quad injury that kept him out of the lineup during the year.
It would have been better if Giovinco brought up these concerns earlier rather than after your team suffers a heartbreaking loss. It also does not help that the Argos players took the wrong approach to responding to his comments.
Black and Foley also made it clear that they support Toronto FC and were present at the championship game, so they do not have an issue with the team. They just did not like the fact that TFC’s superstar player was trying to deflect blame from himself, for the way the game played out.
I think these comments by TFC GM Tim Bezbatchenko was the right approach, when talking about the field conditions at BMO Field:
“There were one or two games where it was less-than-adequate in terms of recovery for the field,” TFC GM Tim Bezbatchenko added. “The Grey Cup was something that was planned, but our championship games were uncertain. We can’t blame that. There are things you can do. You can look at the calendar. Even just a few hours makes a difference. Again, we’ll leave no stone unturned in terms of providing a surface that’s not just average but one of the best in the league.”
Going forward this should be a lesson for both teams that instead of “taking shots” at each other, they should find a way to co-exist. Neither team is leaving BMO Field anytime soon and the field conditions will probably improve.
So what benefit is there for both teams to have a public feud? None whatsoever.
Neither team receives the same attention as the Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors in the media, so to have a story like this dominate headlines is not going to help matters. As a person that watches both play, it seems pointless to have either team and their fanbases make this a bigger issue than it has to be and hopefully they can move on from it.