Kurtis W. LarsonMore from Kurtis W. Larson May 10, 2018 5:58 PM EDT
TORONTO – The Canadian Premier League isn’t competing with MLS, according to the club’s top brass, but this week’s introduction of York 9 FC – the CPL’s newest club – officially confirmed the league’s trust there’s room for more professional soccer in the Greater Toronto Area.
Months of speculation culminated Thursday night when York 9 and its ownership group were unveiled at Vaughan City Hall.
Local business leader Carlo Baldassarra (Chairman and CEO, Greenpark Group), sports executive Preben Ganzhorn (President, York Sports and Entertainment), and former Toronto FC captain Jimmy Brennan (EVP and Director of Soccer, York Sports and Entertainment) introduced their club to a York Region community consisting of 1.1 million people, north of Toronto.
“Our game is community-based. Around the world it’s all about the community,” Brennan told the Toronto Sun. “If I go to London (England) there are 15 clubs … But for some reason in North America we think … we can only have one team.
“Our club, York, is about the nine municipalities. We want to create a culture where everyone in York Region looks and says, ‘This is our pro club.’ If they still want to support Toronto FC, absolutely, of course, it’s a fantastic club … But we really want people in York Region to understand this club is all about the community and York 9 represents every single municipality.”
Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville are represented by the bars in York 9 FC’s Electric Green crest, which symbolizes York Region’s forests. The Black Creek River inspired York 9’s additional colours, Charcoal Grey and Black on Black.
The CPL’s emblem.
“One kid said, ‘This is a dream come true for me. I want to be a professional footballer,’” Brennan added. “He said, ‘If I can play professional soccer in my own backyard for my local pro club, that would be the best dream ever.”
“He has a dream to be a professional,” Brennan continued. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The club confirmed it will play out of York Lions Stadium for the next few seasons ahead of ambitious plans to begin construction on a 12,000- to 15,000-seat soccer stadium within three years.
“I played locally here before I went overseas,” Brennan explained to the Sun. “It is a (soccer) hotbed. We have a lot of players and they’ve got a big passion for the game in this area.”
“Everybody involved in our club — the owners, the staff — are all from York Region. We really want to make this a community-based club and build a brand up here that everyone can be proud of.”
With the CPL’s inaugural season expected to begin next spring, Brennan said York 9 will begin accumulating players this summer.
“We want to get as many local players as we can,” he said. “But we’re realistic. We’ll have to get players from the GTA and across Canada. We might have to venture elsewhere.”
York 9 FC is the first official club to join what’s expected to be an eight-to-10-club CPL in its inaugural season.
Club announcements in the Vancouver-area, Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg and Hamilton are expected to follow. There’s speculation clubs in Edmonton and Ottawa could join ahead of 2019.
A Saskatchewan-based side and a second Toronto-area team, perhaps in Mississauga, might not be far behind.