By Robert Foreman
The Ryerson Rams soccer teams are some of the most successful programs on campus, yet they still don’t have a consistent field to call home.
Those who want to watch the teams in action must travel 45 minutes to Downsview Park, where the teams play their home games. Many students at Ryerson University have no idea that the school has varsity soccer teams.
“Sometimes when we’re practicing … someone sees us and goes ‘Oh hey, I didn’t know there was a soccer team,’” said the associate head coach of the men’s Filip Prostran.
The men’s team has proven itself to be one of the university’s best athletic programs over the past few years — having made it to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals two years in a row and to the nationals in 2013.
The teams have been forced to play their games away from campus because of the lack of real estate for a field in the downtown core. As a result, the teams are not able to have student nights or promotions to get students out to soccer games, unlike other programs.
Prostran said that it causes problems with attracting a new fan base.
“First-year students that know nothing about the sports teams or the soccer team or [ask], ‘where do they play?’ could definitely be a challenge [to get out to games],” he said.
The soccer program used to play their games at Monarch Park, which is south of Coxwell and Danforth avenues, a 30-minute commute from the Ryerson campus. Due to issues with obtaining field permits, the teams now have to call Downsview park their home field.
Ivan Joseph, director of athletics and the women’s team head coach, said that Monarch’s increasing popularity amongst other more demanding teams caused them to lose priority.
“Monarch’s entering into long-term partnerships now,” he said, “More folks have come looking to become a part of their facility. One of the things with Ryerson is that we have a very short window that we use the soccer facility — from August 15 to November 7.”
Joseph said that they weren’t made aware of the fact that they would not be able to play games at Monarch park until there was very limited time, which left them scrambling at the last moment to find a new facility.
Matthew Raizenne, president and CEO of Razor Management Inc., the company in charge of Monarch Park, did not respond for comment.
While the teams are still able to practice at Monarch park, their games have been moved to Downsview.
Third-year midfielder Nick Lambis said he was worried about the diminishing fan base when he found out that their games would be moved to Downsview park.
“That’s something that was probably like the first thing on our mind is, ‘Oh, who’s gonna come out to watch our games now?’” he said.
But both Lambis and Prostran said that family members, alumni and other athletes that know the team well are still fairly loyal in terms of coming out to the field to support them.
The search for a field that Ryerson can call its own has been unsuccessful for many years now.
“We’ve been looking for a field probably for the last three or four years. We’ve come very close a few times,” said Joseph.
At this time, Joseph says that there are multiple options for a potential field.
“I would say that we’re at least in talks with several people – and some are just early conversations, some are more serious conversations,” he said, “You kind of have to have many parallel conversations happening at once because there’s still lots of hoops and partnerships and city bylaws and community groups to always move along in this process.”
With the search for a field always in the works, Lambis has one key wish: “I’m hoping, at least, that during my time here, we’ll get a field.”