In Europe, most if not all countries have a main stadium that the national team uses for their home games. But most European countries are relatively small, especially when compared to Canada. Canada is a big country with a small population. The small population is a big factor in national team game locations. Most games are played in Toronto, because of the sizeable population and the fact that Toronto has a purpose-built soccer stadium.
The most recent game that Canada hosted in the Nations League against Honduras. Had a pretty abysmal crowd show up to cheer on the boys in their first game back on home soil from the World Cup. A sad 13,626 people showed up to watch the game live in person. This didn’t even sell out the lower bowl of BMO Field.
Well, there are a lot of factors that make Toronto an attractive place for the game to be held, such as ease of flights from Europe, a nice stadium, the location of all the major TV networks, and historically a semi-pro Canadian crowd that would show up, and an undefeated run since 2010. It might be time to give other parts of the country a chance to see their heroes in Canadian Red.
In the last 10 years (2012-2022) the men’s team has played three world cup qualifying cycles which are guaranteed home games. In the chart below you can see that Toronto is the most popular with 16 games, followed by Vancouver with 4, Edmonton with 3 and then Hamilton and Montreal tied with 1 game each.
|Year||Cities played (number of times)|
|2015||Toronto (3), Vancouver (1)|
|2017||Toronto(1), Montreal (1)|
|2020||X (covid started no border crossing)|
|2021||Toronto (3), Edmonton (2)|
|2022||Hamilton (1), Toronto (1), Vancouver (1)|
For a country of Canada’s size, the games need to be spread out. Just look to our neighbours to the south. The USA men’s team has played in Carson, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Denver, Sandy, Nashville, Austin, Columbus, Cincinnati, St Paul, Kansas City, and Los Angeles (this excludes gold cup games because I thought that was unfair to include them as they hosted) just since 2020. That is 12 different cities spread out across the country just in the past 3 years.
S. 2 Ep. 17 – Can Canada Hold Herdman – FC13 Podcast
Now if you are going to come at me and say that the reason the Canadian Men’s team plays at BMO Field is that its real grass. You are wrong. The few times that the team has ventured out of Toronto and played in Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Montreal, those were all played on turf so it is possible.
Now if you are going to come at me again and say that there are no other stadiums big enough, you are again wrong. There are a number of options for places to play within the country.
Going from East to West a couple of locations the team could play in
- Halifax at either Wanderers Ground (6500) or Huskies Stadium (9,000-11,000).
- Monton Stadium (8300) but can expand to 20,000 as seen during Touchdown Atlantic
- Montreal at either Stade Saputo (20,000) with real grass, Percival Molson Memorial Stadium (20,000) or if the roof holds up the Big O (56,000)
- Ottawa at Landsdown (25,000)
- Winnipeg at IG Field (33,000)
- Regina at Mosaic Stadium (33,000)
- Calgary at Spruce Meadows (6,000) or McHahon Stadium (35,000)
Some of the stadiums are a little small, but those locations would be great for games against the minnows of CONCACAF like the BVI or AVI or St Kitts etc. The last time any of these locations other than Montreal saw a game was in 2000 when Canada played three games in Winnipeg.
The point of this article is to point out that not all games need to be played in Toronto there are other parts of Canada outside of the GTA especially when a metro area of 6 million people can only get 13,626 to a game, it looks kind of sad, and I know we as a country can at least fill a stadium to cheer on our national team.
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