Written for Vancity Buzz by Rod Charles, Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
How ’bout dem Jays?
I never thought I would be saying those words when the season began – not sure anyone did – but in case you haven’t noticed Canada’s only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays, are playing excellent baseball. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement – the Jays are the hottest ticket in the country right now.
Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos went all-in by acquiring Josh Donaldson (who is being serenaded with “MVP! MVP! MVP!” every time he touches a bat), the hot hand of Troy Tulowitzki and pitching ace David Price. The result? The longest playoff drought in North American pro sports is officially over.
Make no mistake, things are different for the Blue Jays in 2015 and watching the team play is fun; even more so when the games mean something. There’s a real buzz about Canada’s Team in pubs, offices, and schools right across the country. Could another trip to the World Series be in the cards for this team? Buckle up, the Jays have all the tools to make this playoff run one for the ages.
Thinking of heading out east to get a piece of the postseason action? Here’s everything you need to know before travelling to Toronto.
Toronto often gets criticized for having fans who seem to make more noise eating stadium popcorn and belching after slurping on an overpriced can of Rogers Centre beer than cheering for the home team. I don’t think that’s true.
Fans are excited. You will notice the game is louder, the stadium is packed and fans are truly into the team. It’s a bona fide party atmosphere under the Dome because it feels like this team has pixie dust sprinkled over it.
I was in college when the Jays won in 1992 and 93. We used to watch games after class in the $5 nosebleed seats (yes, you heard that number correctly). By the time the playoffs began, those $5 tickets disappeared pretty quick.
If you want to see a game be prepared to pay.
A single game ticket to the American League Championship Series alone will cost you $425. When—oh yes I went there and said when–they get to the World Series, expect to pay $1,400 for a single game. Moments like this don’t come along very often so if your pockets are deep enough, I suggest you take advantage.
If you’re not in a position to watch the game at Rogers Centre fear not, there are awesome places to watch baseball in Toronto. One of the best sports bars in North America is Real Sports Bar & Grill (15 York St /416-815-7325), located at Maple Leaf Square which is also a great place to watch the game
There are three restaurants in the square, as well as Hotel Le Germain. On the west side of the Air Canada Centre is where you can find the gigantic 30-by-50-foot (9.1-by-15.2-metre) video screen overlooking the square.
If you think the big screen outside is impressive, you’re going to love the 39-foot HD screen, bolstered by 199 HD TVs throughout the bar. Maple Leaf Square is where many people will gather to watch the team on the big screen located on the west wall of Air Canada Centre.
Another great choice is Wayne Gretzky’s (99 Blue Jays Way / Phone: 1-416-348-0099). You’ll see tons of memorabilia on the walls, and more important there are 37 HDTVs to watch the game. Best part? It’s just up the road from the Rogers Centre and Air Canada Centre.
The Loose Moose (146 Front St West / 1-416-977-8840) is a long-time favourite in Toronto. With over 50 local, craft and import beers on tap and five new HD TVs behind the main bar, The Loose Moose boasts that it has the most draught beers downtown and can accommodate as many as 800 people. Not a bad idea to make a reservation if you plan to come here.
While not downtown, another fine establishment is Wheat Sheaf Tavern (667 King Street West / 1-647-694-0985) which is best summed up by one word – rustic. Nothing modern about this place compared to Real Sports, but there is lots of history and it’s a great place to watch the game and hang out, which is what Torontonians have been doing here since 1849.
Another local favourite for some beers before a game is Steam Whistle Brewery, located in the Roundhouse Park right across from Rogers Centre (255 Bremner Blvd).
You can drive and park at Rogers Centre but expect to pay event rates. In other words, expect to get gouged. If you would rather not be a sucker do like the locals do – park away from the Dome and take TTC right to Union Station and take the SkyWalk to the game. A great place to park is at the Green P at Front and University
But get there early and make sure you park on the second floor or you’ll be in a long line after the game. A cheaper option a few blocks away is Green P at Richmond and Victoria Street.
Best option is to park on a subway line blocks away from the Dome and ride in, or use the GO Train to get downtown.