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My Toronto FC fan story


For those of you who were waiting to read my story on the Toronto FC fan experience, here it is on

Give it a read and share your thoughts on the story below.

And yes, I’m still in Toronto. Don’t you love flight delays?


  1. Urban areas are a huge draw. Why the hell are people building stadiums out in suburbia far away from everything? I could have told Garber that and he wouldn’t have had to pay me a consulting fee. And potential RB fans don’t go because honestly, the history of the team sucks. It has no hardware and hasn’t won crap. New York likes a winner and has no patience for losers (look at the Jets and Mets and Islanders and even the Knicks from this past season as an example). Plus it has identity crisis with its fans chanting “Metro.” It’s great you’ve been there from the beginning but you just confuse and alienate potential fans. ESC deserves 8k fans in a big stadium. They don’t do anything to convince newbies to the sport otherwise.

  2. Ives you should check out a match in Portland sometime.

    Portland will at the very least match TFC’s great fan support! The atmosphere at PGE Park for a USL 1 match is already better than most of MLS.


    “You take an expansion team and put it in a city with a large base of soccer fans”


    “You build a soccer stadium near the heart of the city, with easy access to public transportation, before the team even starts playing”


    “Then you spend money on marketing and promoting and eventually players”


    Portland fits this formula to a T.

    Get on the bandwagon Ives!!!


  3. Another comment about Portland. In its first three home USL-1 games this year, Portland has drawn 10,977, 4921 (for a Thursday night game) and 9894. That’s a Saturday game average of 10,435 per game and 8597 overall.

    Ives, trust me, go to Portland check out a game and tell me that Portland shouldn’t have a team. Maybe you could go on weekend when both Seattle and Portland have home games and check both of the venues/teams/fans out.

    As far as Toronto: I think its absolutely fantastic what is happening there. How can anyone not like that, except because they are jealous. But there’s nothing to be jealous of, I hope every team in the league gets to that level.

  4. “USfan” — Well said! I fully agree.

    “bgnewf” — I also agree!

    Let me put it into a marketing context for you. “people” who spend a lot of energy hating on the league and teams with success stories are a big detriment to the growth of the MLS. Think about it for one quick second. When “Nike” tries to sell you something they tell you all the reasons why its so awesome or cool, and they have “cool” people tell you that they love it also!

    So in essence “we” the true soccer fans are like Nike so to speak…We have to stand by each other and tell all the other people out there that MLS is awesome and cool! and that they should be a part of it! Thats the only way that we are going to expand the crowds in both low market and high market areas. On the flip-side, you will never get your friends to watch MLS or go to a MLS game by telling them its crap, its not cool, don’t waste your money…Why would someone become interested if you just spent 5 mins dogging the sport.

    And here’s the magic pill….

    I really truely do believe it is a fantastic sport, the best in the world! I love the atmosphere…So everyone should be goodwill ambassadors and promote the league instead of hating on it!

  5. I agree with poster Don 100%. I am absolutely convinced that if the MLS awarded Portland with a franchise that the fan fan support and atmosphere at a remodeled PGE park with real grass and stands on all sides would rival or exceed the atmosphere at BMO field.

  6. To all the TFC haters out there, know this. TFC fans are not snobs and we are not trying to say we are better or worse than anybody else. What we are trying to do, and what Ives captured in his piece so very well, is that we have a formula for a successful Soccer experience THAT WE WANT TO SHARE with all of you.

    Do I like the Red Bulls or Rev’s??? Hell no. Do I want them to succeed and have a vibrant experience at their games? Hell yes. It is good for the entire league when we all do well and all we want is for you guys to see a way that you can achieve it.

    Toronto FC has a tag line in all their advertising…”ALL FOR ONE”. This has to league wide and not just team wide if this game in North America is to prosper the way we all want it to.

  7. I am a die hard DC/US soccer fan, but as every soccer fan in the US has experienced, there is nothing more frustrating than talking to people who say they are soccer fans but refuse to watch MLS because its not the EPL or La Liga. US sports fans have a superiority complex that only allows them to watch things they think are world class.

    Somehow fans in Toronto got over that way before mainstream soccer fans in the US have. Yes, MLS isnt the EPL, but its our league. Toronto has realized that before anyone else has.

    How else do you explain 8K showing up for a RB or NE game?

    Dont knock them for wanting attention. Revel in it and get stoked when LAG-Chivas is a big event or 20K+ root on DC.

    Obviously MLS has made a mistake by thinking that the secret for success was convincing the millions of suburban soccer moms to come to 1 or 2 matches a year, when they should be focused on 20 somethings in big cities looking for a event.

    Thats what makes matches into something bigger and build momentum.

  8. Ives,

    Thanks for this account. I’m pleased with the success in Toronto and believe/hope it continues!

    As far as the formula for success goes, there’s a key line in your story, which is:

    “watching police and security taking the unrolled portions of the streamers and throwing them back to the crowd made me realize just how different BMO Field is than anywhere else in the league.”

    I think DC would be a similar experience to Toronto if they will play in a soccer specific stadium that is conveniently located in DC near a metro stop and if they have stadium security that will support a fun (but safe) soccer atmosphere and experience in that venue. The fan base there already has the tailgating and flag waving down to an art.

    As for New York, over a decade of NJSEA has taken the life out of a good part of New York area’s soccer fan base that stretches from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. The flame is not dead yet with several strong supporters groups trying to help make it work in the “interim”; hopefully when the state of the art Harrison stadium is ready to receive fans and when NJSEA is out of the picture, the Red Bull front office will be able to also support the local fan bases’ efforts to create a fun (but safe) soccer experience.

    We all know that there’s a little hyperbole in your statement that “not only would that not happen” in New York “, if you tossed a streamer at a player at Giants Stadium you would get tackled by two state troopers as a state police dog mauled your leg.” but the fact that the reality is fairly close to that description is scary enough.

    It’s easier to start from a blank slate like Toronto has rather than to deal with the decade plus of soccer deterrence in New York and the most customer hostile approach to running a business that I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to overestimate the negative impact that NJSEA has had on the MLS franchise in the “tri-state” area. It will eventually be overcome but it may take awhile. I think Red Bull will do everything in its power to help the current core supporters and to attract back those that have been deterred by the NJSEA. For instance, they could start by just not allowing anything that was unsafe into the stadium and otherwise being lenient and “letting it go…”

    I think the Red Bulls have the right coach to lead them into the new stadium. Juan Carlos and Jeff will need to make a number of key player acquisitions — three to eight — and then the team will be ready for Harrison.

  9. Great article, really captured what I realized last October when I followed the Revs up to BMO for their last game of the year. The RPBs are class acts and playing them in the supporters match the night before the match was an amazing experience.

    Ives, I forwarded your article to the front office of the Revs, the way that TFC caters to their fans (WHAT A CONCEPT!!!!!) is really impressive and makes me very jealous.

  10. BMO Field is downright electric, just like Ives has described. Although, even a well written article is hard pressed to capture what it really feels like to be their!

    BMO Field needs to be praised by “true” soccer fans like: Barra Brava, Section 8, Empire, LAriotsquad, Ives, the MLS and other soccer journalists because…We all have a vision! We have a vision of what this league should be like in 5 years. We all should want to raise the bar for everyone! “true” soccer fans want every stadium to be Soccer Specific, they want every stadium to be 20-30 thousand strong! they want electricity in the air, they want a level of play that is rivaled by the top european leagues, these are all things that we need to aspire too! and BMO Field is helping all of us along the way to that promised land!!

    Stand up for one another and unite!

    ALL for ONE!

  11. The audacity of some TFC fan to call Red Bull NY a “tiny club” in some other post seems to me like a cry for attention. The majority of the TFC fan postings have this “we’re better than all of MLS” mentality soely just based on their fan support. This coming from a team with only 3 wins last year. Granted, Red Bull has never won an MLS Cup but were always in contention every year. Red Bulls came out playing Thursday night like BMO was their house, dominating the game unfazed by your fan support. Basically for TFC, the product on the field will also represent your club. This will need to improve, then you can call my Red Bulls a tiny club.

  12. It was a fun atmosphere, and I wasn’t even at the game — I went to see The Verve at Ricoh Coliseum across the street, and the fan presence in the area when the game let out and at the show afterwards (Nick McCabe even wore a TFC shirt onstage) was impressive. The energy and enthusiasm of the fans was contagious and very positive, from my perspective. I’ve never settled on a favorite MLS team, but until Portland “get promoted,” the Toronto fans have won me over.

  13. “Toronto wants us to love them so bad, it’s really funny. And no, it’s not a jealousy thing. It was never a jealousy thing with DC either, and they’ve always had one of the best atmospheres in the MLS. They don’t need anyone else’s approval on it, they already know. Toronto wants everyone to know, and wants everyone to love them, and everyone to admit they are the best.

    Sorry, no dice. It’s tired and annoying already. Enjoy yourselves, but give it a rest.”


    What the hell is the point of this post, sublicon?

    You say you’re not jealous, but your post smacks of just that. TFC fans didn’t write the ESPN column on the BMO Field experience, Ives did, and he’s obviously not a Toronto fan.

    So how exactly is Ives writing a piece on Toronto fans a cry for attention on the fans’ part?

    Your logic is baffling, the only reason I can think of your harping on TFC fans both here and on BigSoccer is nothing more than childish, unabated jealousy.

    To those wondering about the 1200 number, that’s how many tickets the three main TFC supporters groups bought. The additional 1300 were fans from outside the groups who booked through a sports travel agency which jumped aboard after seeing the supporters groups numbers.

  14. oh and Ives in your ESPN article you write that 1200 fans went to Columbus when in actuality there was 2400 fans

  15. Hey sublicon,

    I have one issue regarding your statement: its really stupid

    who the are you to say why we do things the way we do. From my personal experience (in which you, obviously have none), we do what we do because its a lot of fun, and we love our team. I don’t think we are worried about impressing other MLS teams, because the atmosphere throughout the MLS, for the most part, is bad, and it wouldn’t really be that hard to impress anybody. Now I am sorry if you are from Colorado or Salt Lake, but there is no need to generalize about the ethos of our fans, considering that you have no frame of reference.

  16. I like the story and have a question for you Ives (your Q&A is closed). Did you happen to see Michael Wilbon torch MLS today on PTI? He called the streamer throwing “bush-league” and said it’s stuff like this that makes soccer unpopular. I always that Wilbon was a soccer guy! Your thoughts?

  17. This is not getting old at all, what is getting old is the fan support at RB and Revs games. 2 teams that can’t get anyone to see the games.

    Though I will always be a revs fan, and go to my 2-3 games a year, I have decided to go to DC in a couple weeks and Toronto next year, and then I will be crossing my fingers that RB’s new stadium will attract people and that Revs will finally get out of Foxboro.

    Liked the article, liked the game

  18. What some of you seem to forget is that the MLS needs to let everyone know what’s going on at Toronto. This is just the team’s second year in existence for crying out loud.

    MLS is now just starting to appeal to the soccer fans (unfortunately) instead of converting sports fans into soccer fans.

    So anytime Toronto FC fans get media exposure, it’s good for the league.

  19. “This is vital for MLS because an environment like the one found at BMO Field can do more to convert casual observers into passionate soccer fans, than a David Beckham or Cuauhtemoc Blanco ever could.”

    Amen to this, and as many of us have been saying for several years.

    Wish Garber et al. had realized this 10 years ago. Now they are finally at least giving lip service to the characteristics of games that you cannot find in any other sport in North America, but for too long they courted just the families from the suburbs. If you support the atmosphere, the others will come.

  20. Toronto wants us to love them so bad, it’s really funny. And no, it’s not a jealousy thing. It was never a jealousy thing with DC either, and they’ve always had one of the best atmospheres in the MLS. They don’t need anyone else’s approval on it, they already know. Toronto wants everyone to know, and wants everyone to love them, and everyone to admit they are the best.

    Sorry, no dice. It’s tired and annoying already. Enjoy yourselves, but give it a rest.

  21. Check out the Timber Army support of their Portland Timbers USL-1 team. You are absolutely right on the demonstrated fan support factor in awarding franchises. The MSL needs a team in Portland.

  22. Hey man, I think you have to go there in person to appreciate it. He’s just recounting his personal experience being there.

    Hopefully the ego-stroking can inspire other clubs to develop a similar atmosphere and fan base. I think that’s the point of the article.

  23. Isn’t this story about a year late?

    I loved their enthusiasm last year. Now the ego stroking is getting a little annoying.


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