A brand new soccer field is set to open just minutes away from Ryerson, but don’t expect to watch a Rams game there any time soon.
The new Regent Park athletic grounds are part of a revitalization project that is co-partnered between the City of Toronto, Toronto Community Housing, the Daniels Corporation, and the Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment (MLSE) Foundation. The soccer pitch is expected to open before the New Year.
Over the last five seasons, Ryerson’s soccer teams have played home games at seven fields in Toronto and the GTA, including fields in Vaughan and Scarborough.
Despite the new field’s ideal location, Ryerson’s director of athletics, Ivan Joseph, says Ryerson has not requested access to the new field.
“We’re always looking for someplace close,” said Joseph. “But they already had a partner — there’s only so many ways to slice a pie.”
Ryerson was left scrambling early this season when its field permits fell through with Monarch Park in Toronto’s east end. They now rent space at Downsview Park — a 45-minute trek for soccer fans and athletes.
Nilesh Chauhan is the community partnerships co-ordinator at MLSE foundation, the charitable arm of the professional sports organization.
Once open, the grounds will be considered public space and operated by the City of Toronto. But MLSE has first dibs on who gets to book field time because they’re footing the bill.
“Our main target is providing youth access to sports.” Chauhan explains. “The way that pitch is going to work is we are going to provide a few programs and outside of those hours it will be controlled by the City of Toronto.”
Regent Park may be close, but because of its partnerships, it isn’t able to commit the hours that the Ryerson teams need for practices and games.
“Their programming is not at the same level (as Downsview) where Ryerson is the only partner,” said Joseph. He said the odd game at Regent Park could still be a possibility in the future.
The Ryerson’s men’s soccer team made it to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals three years in a row, including making it to the final four this season.