Argos, CFL look for solution to BMO Field's 'turf monster'

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the league and Toronto Argonauts are exploring how to rectify the turf issue at BMO Field. Most of BMO Field's playing surface is natural grass, but the entire north endzone is turf as is a portion of the south endzone.

Difference between grass field and turf endzones blamed for Eskimos' loss

Despite most of BMO Field housing natural grass, the entire north endzone and a portion of the south endzone is turf. (Mark Linch/The Canadian Press)

​CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the Toronto Argonauts are looking at how to rectify the turf issue at BMO Field.

Most of BMO Field's playing surface is natural grass. But the entire north end zone is turf as is a portion of the south end zone.

The difference in surfaces has caused problems, highlighted in the second quarter of a game Saturday when Edmonton receiver Derel Walker slipped and fell in the north end zone, allowing Toronto defensive back Ronnie Yell to intercept a pass and preserve a 12-4 advantage. That turned out to be a crucial play as the Argos eventually won 20-17.

Ambrosie saw Walker's slip firsthand as he attended the game with Toronto governor Dale Lastman and club president Bill Manning. Ambrosie said all three discussed the matter afterwards and that the Argos are well aware of the situation and actively pursuing a resolution.

However, Ambrosie said finding a suitable fix isn't an easy matter.

"It's not like you and I and six other guys showing up with some sod and laying it down on a weekend," Ambrosie said Tuesday. "What I learned Saturday night after having that conversation is it's much more complicated than that.

"I found Bill and Dale very engaged on the issue and they're exploring what the options are. We'll just keep having the conversation with them and hopefully at some point we'll find a solution that makes sense for all parties."

Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly said Walker slipped because he was running on turf.

"A hundred per cent he slipped and fell because of the turf, but it's not something that we don't know about, both teams play on it," Reilly told TSN after the game. "There's nothing we can do about that, we're going to run our plays and try to execute them and do your best as you can on that surface.

"I've never seen D-Walk slip and fall on a one-on-one jump ball."

Other CFL players also chimed in.

'Toronto turf monster'

"The to Toronto turf monster (endzone) strikes again!!!! It's Changing games now!!" tweeted Ottawa receiver Greg Ellingson.

But Ellingson also said receivers use the turf to their advantage.

"Also used by offence to break routes off before the endzone. Making dbs change direction in the endzone. Slipping in the process," he added via Twitter.

Hamilton defensive back Courtney Stephen tweeted: "It makes NO Sense. It's not safe at all."

Ambrosie, a former CFL offensive lineman, admits he has player safety concerns regarding the BMO Field turf.

"I worry about it," he said. "We've received feedback from the Players' Association that they're worried about it as well.

"I think about it and I do want us to be conscious about it through that lens. We're talking with the Argos about it, they're looking at what the possibilities are and we just keep working towards a solution and hope one is out there."

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