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Forget Baseball, Let's Watch Grass Grow

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Michael Cohen

Rumblings in Toronto today are focusing in on the possibility of the Toronto Argonauts being sold to either Larry Tanenbaum or the company he is the chairman of, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. I'm sure a lot of people couldn't care less about who owns the Argonauts, but more importantly the team may be on its way out of the Rogers Centre even faster than we expected. In September we learned that the Argos were informed their lease was not going to be renewed after the 2017 season, meaning that 2018 was likely the year that Blue Jays fans would get to watch grass grow in the Rogers Centre. To recap what Paul Beeston had to say in September:

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.

There's more to the story though:

The Rogers Centre has extended a lease agreement with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts through December 31st, 2017, and has notified them that this will be the Argos' final lease in the stadium--no further renewals will happen after that date. While the Rogers Centre cannot kick out the football club before that, the Argos have an option to vacate the premises prior to 2017.

If the Argos are sold, the team option to vacate the premises may come into play as the new owners will be trying to move the team into BMO Field as soon as possible. As Dave Naylor explains:

As well, having the Argos as a second tenant at BMO Field could help MLSE's drive to secure investment from government to redevelop the stadium, which is a publicly-owned facility operated by MLSE exclusively for soccer at this time.

The incentive for the possible new owners to get some leverage to renovate BMO Field is great news for the Blue Jays as the process of getting grass into the Rogers Centre may be sped up by a year.