Arrows Announce Stadium
Bill Webb and Lucas Rumball joined Devo Brown on Breakfast Television on Friday morning and the pair made a huge announcement for the club. You can watch the entire segment here.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have our stadiums. We have known for some time that the Toronto Arrows would be playing their home games at multiple stadiums but there was some speculation as to which stadiums they might be. Webb revealed that the Arrows’ first 4 home games will be held at York Lions Stadium and the remaining 4 home games will be at Lamport Stadium. The Arrows home schedule now shapes up as so:
April 7th vs NOLA Gold @ York Lions Stadium
April 14th vs Austin Elite Rugby @ York Lions Stadium
April 21st vs Houston Sabrecats @ York Lions Stadium
April 28th vs Seattle Seawolves @ York Lions Stadium
May 5th vs San Diego Legion @ Lamport Stadium
May 12th vs Utah Warriors @ Lamport Stadium
May 26th vs Glendale Raptors @ Lamport Stadium
June 2nd vs Rugby United New York @ Lamport Stadium
Part of the reason for playing at two stadiums is to do a little bit of market research. Webb and the rest of the ownership group can assess what stadium will be better for the Arrows long term. What stadium do the fans like better? What stadium do the players like better? What stadium do the sponsors like better? Webb can definitively learn the answers to all these questions during the 2019 season.
For the fans, both York Lions Stadium and Lamport Stadium are locations that are easily accessible by public transit and highways. However, Lamport Stadium is in a the more central Liberty Village location with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby for pre and post game socializing.
Lamport Stadium is also the larger of the two. Lamport Stadium currently seats 9,600 whereas York Lions Stadium is less than half of that at 4000. However, York 9 (a team in the new soccer Canadian Premier League) have announced plans to expand York Lions Stadium to 8,000 in the near future.
Additionally, Lamport Stadium is home to the Toronto Wolfpack. During the 2018 RFL Championship season, the Wolfpack averaged 6,239 fans to their games. Wolfpack attendance peaked with a crowd of 9,266 on hand to watch the £1 Million Game. The Arrows could very easily see similar attendance numbers. If that is the case, Lamport Stadium may become the obvious choice just purely based on capacity.
The Arrows and the Wolfpack could turn the first weekend of May into quite the treat for rugby fans. Saturday May 4th will see the Wolfpack welcome the legendary Bradford Bulls to Canada for the first time. Sunday May 5th will have the Arrows take on the Utah Warriors. Currently this is the only confirmed weekend that will feature both Arrows and Wolfpack games. Furthermore, both games will take place at Lamport Stadium. It could be interesting to see if there is any cross promotion between the Arrows and Wolfpack for this rugby filled weekend. Playing in the same stadium as the Wolfpack will inevitably bring up another question; will the Arrows have a beer garden?
The schedule does provide a nice balance ensuring both stadiums will see their share of big games. York Lions Stadium will host the home opener against the NOLA Gold. The home opener is always a big game and this is a typical home opener. Not only will it be the first home game in Arrows history, but it will also be the first MLR game outside of the USA. The Arrows will then play Austin and Houston before meeting the reigning MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves. In addition to being the MLR Champions, Seattle also boasts plenty of Canadians on their roster including Phil Mack, Djustice Sears-Duru, and Brock Staller. A wealth of Canadian talent will be on display in this game and fans will get a good look at a number of players who will be on the Rugby World Cup roster.
The first two games at Lamport Stadium will see the Arrows take on the San Diego Legion and Utah Warriors. Then they will play the Glendale Raptors and Rugby United New York to round out the year. The Glendale Raptors were the best team in the MLR last year right up until the final game. This year they have added Hanco Germishuys, the best player in MLR last year, to the roster. They will be an incredibly exciting team to watch live and this will be a Toronto fans first opportunity to do so. The year will be capped off with a visit from RUNY. RUNY is the other expansion team entering MLR in 2019. The Arrows and RUNY and the only two teams on the eastern side of North America (for now). The two teams will be playing an exhibition game in Buffalo on January 12th and both sides social media accounts have already been chirping each other in the build up to the game. It would be a lot of fun if the Arrows and RUNY blossomed into a nice rivalry. Depending on how the season plays out, this game could also have plenty of playoff implications.
During the Breakfast Television segment Bill Webb also mentioned that season tickets will go on sale next week.