Mississauga mayor says $50-million soccer stadium shouldn’t be built if it will jeopardize other projects
Published October 20, 2021 at 8:57 am
A new major soccer stadium in Mississauga will cost $50 million, a price too steep for Mayor Bonnie Crombie unless the money can be found in places that won’t jeopardize the city’s most pressing infrastructure needs.
In an interview yesterday afternoon with insauga.com publisher Khaled Iwamura, Crombie said while she knows “there’s a lot of excitement about a soccer stadium,” she doesn’t want such a facility built at the expense of current infrastructure plans, such as development of a new Port Credit Marina.
“I just don’t want to saddle my city with debt, because these big stadiums end up being white elephants,” she said, before somewhat softening her position. “(But) I know it would be a great venue to have, as long as it was funded.”
Directed several weeks ago by councillors to once again study the feasibility of a major soccer stadium they say could host large national tournaments and would be a potential sports tourism gold mine, City of Mississauga staff said this week the undertaking would cost about $50 million.
Beyond the tourism and financial benefits, several councillors say, Mississauga’s soccer community badly needs a landmark facility, which, if approved, could be built on City-owned land off of Ninth Line in the northwest corner of the city.
Additionally, a new stadium could bring a Canadian Premier League (CPL) expansion team to the city.
In earlier discussion, councillors Carolyn Parrish (Ward 5) and Pat Saito (Ward 9), proponents of a new soccer stadium, pointed to the Ontario government as a potential source of major funding.
They said the City should move quickly to determine if Mississauga is eligible for Ontario sports and tourism grants being made available in the next year or so.
“This is the time we need to really move on this and at least have a plan so we can apply for some of that funding,” Saito said earlier. “I continue to hear again from the larger soccer organizations (in Mississauga) of what their needs are, and today we are not able to meet those needs for significant games. It’s all going to Vaughan. That’s the problem. Vaughan has the most amazing fields and we are losing out on huge sports tourism opportunities, particularly to Vaughan, and other municipalities.”
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Meanwhile, members of Mississauga’s soccer community who’ve been pushing for a CPL expansion team have had their hopes reignited now that the city is revisiting plans for a stadium.
Rob Ditta, co-founder of Sauga City Collective (SCC), a group formed in 2017 in an effort to have Mississauga included in the CPL’s inaugural season eight-team lineup in 2019, said earlier that soccer groups in the city are excited once again to be having conversations about a new stadium and the possibility of a pro team.
“A new stadium and club to represent Mississauga in a national league would be something truly special if it’s done correctly,” he said. “Mississauga has always been a soccer city. The number of people registered in league programs, academies, playing on local fields, at indoor facilities, is enormous and represents the love of the sport by the people who call this place home.”
The CPL, Canada’s top soccer league, has indicated it would like to double its membership to 16 teams by 2026, when Canada will be the site of 10 FIFA World Cup games as part of the United States-hosted tournament.
Ditta said Mississauga’s chances of getting a CPL team have always hinged on the city’s willingness to build a stadium to meet league standards and having an ownership team capable of operating the club.
In addition to Mississauga, Ontario sites on the CPL expansion radar include Niagara, Kitchener-Waterloo, Durham and Barrie.
Ward 4 Councillor John Kovac, who along with Saito introduced a motion at Council in April 2018 to study the feasibility of building a major soccer stadium, has said he’s cautiously optimistic about both a stadium and CPL expansion team.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies