Toronto SUN: Lynx raging over Rhinos and against civic snub
July 14th, 2002

Lynx raging over Rhinos and against civic snub


When the Toronto Lynx needed help, the city of Toronto gave the boot to the professional soccer team.

Lynx chief operating officer Nicole Hartrell still is angry about the city's decision to kick the A-League team out its home facility -- the city-run Etobicoke Centennial Stadium -- when municipal workers went on strike last month.

The Lynx (5-9-3) recorded a surprising 2-0 win over the two-time defending league champion Rochester Raging Rhinos before a crowd of 1,293 last night at York University Stadium -- the Lynx's temporary home -- but the great result doesn't eliminate the team's off-field concerns.

"The most frustrating thing for me is that obviously the city's decision-makers have the power to exempt certain events (allowing events to continue during the strike)," said Hartrell, whose team's average attendance has dropped 40% to about 1,600 this season.

"I found about a week into the strike they exempted the Robbie (International Soccer) Tournament (at Birchmount Stadium), they exempted a Korean soccer event at (Etobicoke) Centennial and the Ribfest at Centennial.

"Here we are, Division I soccer, the highest level of soccer in the country, with the World Cup going on and, how ironic, (Canada's) not in it. We're not in it because we don't get that kind of (good) support (from the government)."

The Lynx are staying at York for the rest of the month before returning to Etobicoke for their final three home games of the season. York, however, has no lights, meaning the Lynx have to move weeknight start times to 6:30 p.m.

"All the staff we have in place had to go into damage control mode (during the strike)," Hartrell said. "You picture calling thousands and thousands of people who have purchased tickets to let them know about venue and time changes."

The good news is the Lynx are giving away far fewer tickets than during their first five years in the league, when they played at Varsity Stadium. Also, York is considering adding lights to the stadium. Hartrell is meeting with university officials this week to discuss moving the team to the 3,500-seat facility next season.

Niki Budalic and Brian Ashton, on a penalty shot, scored for the Lynx, who are 10 points out of a playoff spot. The Lynx play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps Friday.

BRIEFLY: The Canadian national women's soccer team will face Norway in an exhibition match Wednesday at 7 p.m., at Etobicoke Centennial.

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