Woodbine Entertainment to Partner With Investors To Build Soccer Training Centre, Stadium
Woodbine Entertainment is partnering with private investors to build a soccer training facility and soccer-specific stadium.
Hype is growing for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and its Toronto matches, with soccer fans excitedly buzzing over the city’s participation in a mixed-bid tri-national North American hosting of the world’s most-watched sporting event.
Toronto is set to host World Cup matches in BMO Field — which will undergo renovations for a substantial capacity increase — but that expansion will not be the only legacy of the tournament in Toronto, as plans are in motion to bring a new soccer-specific stadium to the city, supporting a local club while doubling as a potential training venue for the further development of soccer in Canada.
Woodbine Entertainment announced the new project back in March 2022 to bring a sports facility to a portion of its 684-acre land at Woodbine Racetrack in the Rexdale neighbourhood, and a new batch of renderings was recently revealed, offering what could be the first glimpse of a major update to the plan.
“With Canada on the brink of qualification for the 2022 FIFA men’s World Cup, the women’s national team’s 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,” Jim Lawson, Woodbine Entertainment’s CEO, said in a statement. “We see the power of the game in bringing people together and we cannot think of a more complementary sport as we look to further grow and sustain the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it supports throughout the province.”
The project would include a soccer-specific stadium and 38,000 square-foot training facility with a world-class grass surface that would meet the professional standards established by FIFA, soccer’s world-governing body.
Though it could serve as a key training venue during the 2026 World Cup, its primary tenant will be York United FC of the Canadian Premier League, which currently plays its home games at York University’s York Lions Stadium.
Once completed, the Woodbine facilities would give the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) two quality soccer venues. BMO Field, home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, currently operates at Exhibition Place.
Sporting venue design advisor and modular building specialists SixFive Stadiums has posted a series of new images of the planned soccer complex that reveal what appears to be a very different plan from what was announced in March, highlighting modular details that will allow capacity to be easily expanded as needed in the future.
The venue could also be home for a Canadian women’s professional squad. In addition, it could serve as a practice facility for the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
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.