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CCL: Toronto to host first leg vs. LA at Rogers Centre

TORONTO – Toronto FC are going indoors for the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the LA Galaxy on March 7.

The club confirmed on Wednesday that game will be played under the roof of Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball, so as to avoid inclement weather for both players and fans.

The move to play under the retractable roof has seemed likely for some time, but there were decisions to be made before TFC concluded on playing there instead of BMO Field, their usual home.

“A lot of thought went into selecting the home site for this very important match,” Toronto FC senior director of business operations Paul Beirne said in a club statement. “While we would have loved to host our quarterfinal match at our home, BMO Field, ultimately the decision came down to our ability to deliver a safe and enjoyable event in a venue that could withstand the unpredictability of March’s weather conditions.

“We felt that BMO Field’s infrastructure in its present state, combined with the exposure to the winter conditions, would not deliver on this experience.”

Beirne said that Toronto FC and the club’s owner, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, studied the feasibility of upgrading BMO Field’s infrastructure to prepare it for the winter CONCACAF match. However, the time required for the work would not have allowed the facility to be ready in time for their tilt against the Galaxy.

Tom Anselmi, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MLSE, told earlier this month that there were issues to be considered at both venues, foremost the pitch: The artificial turf at Rogers Centre is not considered ideal for soccer, while the pitch at BMO Field needed upgrades to deal with winter weather.

“Last year, we probably had $100,000 in frozen pipes and snow removal costs just for that first regular-season game [on March 26, a 2-0 win vs. Portland],” Anselmi said. “There were all kinds of things, like keeping the water running so the pipes don’t freeze.”

Ticket details for the match will be announced in early January. The return match will be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on March 14.