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Rob Ford Stadium unveiled in Toronto’s west end

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A stadium in Toronto’s west end has been officially renamed in honour of former mayor Rob Ford.

Ford’s brother, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Mayor Olivia Chow attended the renaming ceremony Tuesday evening at Etobicoke’s Centennial Park Stadium, now known as Rob Ford Stadium.

The premier recounted his brother’s love for football during the ceremony, sharing stories about Rob’s interactions with the players he coached and how he helped them win championships.

Ford went on to thank the mayor and city council for approving the renaming.

“It just means absolutely everything to us,” Ford said. “I’ll never, ever forget it. This would not happen if it wasn’t for the mayor and city council.”

Rob Ford’s daughter Stephanie also attended the ceremony, saying that the stadium was an important place for her father.

“If anything were to be named after my father, this stadium would be the most fitting,” Stephanie said. “It represents his love for Etobicoke and how much he did for the people as mayor, but also what he did for his second love – football.”

She remembered her father’s dedication to the players, helping them succeed outside of the game.

“I have been to the stadium many times to watch the yearly football games. While I no longer attend, my younger brother Douglas will get to come here and watch the annual Friday Night Lights football games here in a stadium named after his father,” she said.

“My mother as well will be very happy to see this stadium in memory of her late husband whenever she takes a walk in Centennial Park.”

Rob Ford’s Family and Mayor Olivia Chow photographed during the unveiling of Rob Ford Stadium on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

The 64th mayor of Toronto died in 2016 at the age of 46 after a battle with a rare form of cancer. He served as mayor from 2010 to 2014 and represented Etobicoke North as a councillor before and after his tenure until his death.

Toronto’s decision to rename the stadium after the politician and former high school football coach followed a council vote in December of last year on a motion brought forward by Coun. Paul Ainslie and seconded by Coun. Shelley Carroll.

A number of councillors had argued that Ford’s behaviour as mayor had embarrassed the city. In 2013, video of the then-mayor smoking crack cocaine surfaced online, something he would admit to later that year.

Despite the resistance from some councillors, the motion passed 17 to 6, with Chow’s support.

“Our late former mayor, Rob Ford, loved football. He loved playing it and coaching it, spending many hours with young people, helping them learn the game and win the game, creating strong bonds in his community and across the city,” Chow said at Tuesday’s unveiling, which would have been Ford’s 55th birthday.

The mayor noted that her late husband, Jack Layton, and Ford were friends and sat beside each other at city council, where they sometimes talked about football.

“I know the pain of losing a loved one, and I know how difficult it is to lose someone so prematurely. He was young,” Chow said.

“It was Rob that, when Jack passed away, that brought forward a tribute to Jack by naming the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. And the Layton family is forever grateful for that. So when Councillor Ainslie proposed that we name this stadium Rob Ford Stadium, we said, yes, absolutely, yes.”

With files from Joshua Freeman

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