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bana2166
05-11-06, 12:34 PM
Toronto FC to join MLS fold in 2007

Toronto FC became the 13th Major League Soccer team Thursday, as the club's name and logo were unveiled at the site of the team's future stadium in Toronto.

"This is an exciting day for soccer fans in Toronto who can now enjoy great quality soccer and have a team they can call their own," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the investor-operator of the club. "Toronto provides the perfect backdrop for the world's number one sport given our city's diversity and affinity for soccer. We're committed to making Toronto FC and Major League Soccer a success."

The team was born in October 2005 after MLSE reached an agreement with the governments of Canada and Ontario to build a permanent soccer stadium at Toronto's Exhibition Place. MLSE's executives were introduced to the league's Board of Governors at MLS Cup 2005 in Frisco, Texas. The club is the first MLS team to be located outside of the United States.

"We're thrilled to have Toronto FC as the 13th team in Major League Soccer and our first international club," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "The combination of a new stadium, a diverse sports market and one of the elite sports and entertainment organizations in the world provides an exciting future for Major League Soccer in Canada."

The team's logo is simple in its design, featuring a shield dominated by a large "T" and a horizontal sash bearing the city's name. The emblem features the colors red and white, evoking a strong Canadian identity.

The team's name is purposefully simple, as well.

"The absence of a conventional sports nickname is deliberate," Anselmi added. "We wanted the whole city to feel ownership and we want to provide the opportunity for a meaningful nickname to emerge over time."

The National Soccer Stadium at Exhibition Place, which is currently under construction, will serve as Toronto FC's home, as well as the home of the Canadian national team. It will also be used for community soccer leagues.

"Toronto's soccer stadium represents a significant investment and commitment to city and community building by all levels of government, the Canadian Soccer Association and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment," Anselmi said. "We're excited that Toronto will finally have a dedicated soccer facility. Our new team and sports facility will play pivotal roles in developing the sport at all levels in Canada."

The 20,000-seat stadium is due to be completed in time for the start of the 2007 MLS season. The site will be excavated by the end of May, and seats and turf are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year.

Mere months after it hosts its first Toronto FC match, the venue - discussions are underway for naming rights - will host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in July.

In addition to Toronto FC, MLSE owns several sports teams: the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors and the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies. The company also owns the Air Canada Centre, in which the Leafs and Raptors play, as well as two digital channels - Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV.

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.