With the World Cup just around the corner, Toronto's capacity for professional level soccer is set to increase. Woodbine Entertainment has announced that it will be designating a portion of its 684-acre property to develop a new high-performance training centre and soccer stadium. The new facilities would be located in Etobicoke’s Rexdale community, next to Woodbine Racetrack on the southwest corner of Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard. They would become the permanent base for a potential domestic professional women’s soccer league, as well as a main training base, and the home stadium for Canadian Premier League club York United FC.
The potential project would bring a soccer-specific stadium that would seat a total of 8,000 fans, as well as include a 38,000 ft² training facility that would be fitted with a grass pitch, up to FIFA standards. The project is being developed by renowned global soccer venue design firm Populous – which also has a hand in Toronto's potential e-sports stadium at Exhibition Place – with additional input and expertise from the Baldassarra family and Greenpark Group.
In addition to being the home base for women's and men's professional soccer teams, the venue would be used by the Canadian national soccer teams for training, and hosting international federations preparing for major international events.
"With Canada on the brink of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Women's National Team Olympic Gold Medal win, and Canada co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, the time is certainly right for us to show our support for Canada’s growing soccer community," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment.
The project would also come to be a component in Woodbine Entertainment’s vision to create The Woodbine Community Plan – a large-scale urban community that would include an upgraded backstretch and stable facilities for horse racing.
"We are a family of builders and share Woodbine’s vision of creating communities for a better Toronto," said York United Chairman and Greenpark Group Executive, Michael Baldassarra.
An additional part of the plan would be to make the new community easily accessible, connecting it to Toronto and the GTA through a proposed new GO Station to be built on the southeast corner of the property. This would be integral, as the addition of the new stadium would be another key driver of annual visits to a developed community at Woodbine Racetrack that is expected to exceed more than 16 million visitors annually.
With approved zoning as part of the overall plan, the first phase of the project could be ready as soon as 2023.
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