Sunderland AFC and Toronto FC to kick off Queen City Ex in Regina

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The city of Regina will host U23 teams from Sunderland AFC and Toronto FC, with tickets ranging from $18 to $65.

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International soccer is back in Regina and local organizations are hoping the interest generated by the event could lead to further growth in the sport in the city and beyond.

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Sunderland Association Football Club (SAFC) and Toronto Football Club (TFC) II, both U23 (under 23) teams, will face off in a friendly match on August 3 at Mosaic Stadium.

“It’s amazing the work we’re doing as a community to bring this great sport to Saskatchewan,” TJ Singh, executive director of Futbol Club Regina, said at a news conference Thursday.

“I think we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s events like these (that) make a huge difference and bring something that people are looking for,” he added. “We have a large amount of immigrants and that’s something they can relate to.”

Mosaic Stadium is not new to football, gridiron or soccer, as it is home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League and once hosted a game between the New York Cosmos of the North American League of soccer and Valencia CF in 2017.

The SAFC team, known as the Black Cats, now play in the Sky Bet Championship of the English Football League, the second highest level of play in English football except the Premier League.

TFC’s Tier 2 team plays in the new MLS Next Pro league, the third tier of the United States soccer league system.

Football is the most popular sport in the world and is growing locally, according to Singh. In 2022, there has already been a 10% increase in the number of youth enrolled in soccer programs, he said, attributing some of the growth to the success of Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams.

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“As we see young people wanting to embrace the sport of soccer in Canada, we also see it happening right here in Regina,” said Tim Reid, CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association Ltd., the organization that oversees the REAL District. , Mosaic website. Stadium and the Brandt Center, said Thursday.

Reid said Saskatchewan has a role to play in the growth of soccer in Canada, especially as the 2026 FIFA World Cup approaches. The World Cup will see matches played across North America, with matches in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

“I believe this is becoming more than an annual event. At some point, I would love to see a team move into Mosaic Stadium in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Roughriders,” he said.

There have been talks with the Canadian Premier League and potential team owners about a CPL team in Regina, Reid said, calling the talks “positive”. The rights to an expansion CPL team have already been awarded to Saskatchewan-based Living Sky Sports and Entertainment, subject to the construction of a football-specific stadium in Saskatoon.

Reid said the challenge lies in the size of the stadium, as the Mosaic Stadium is larger than the standard CPL venue, so a “stepping stone” arena might be needed until the CPL expands.

“We believe Regina is a great home for professional soccer in Canada. We believe the success of this event will send a very strong message – not only to Soccer Canada but also to the CPL – that a franchise should end up in Regina,” said Reid. “And I’m not sure a franchise shouldn’t end up in Regina before it does in Saskatoon.”

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Tickets for the game go on sale June 3 at 10 a.m. Ticket prices will vary between $18 and $65, before fees and taxes. The tickets will also serve as entry to the Queen City Exhibition which opens the same day.

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