Saturday I drove up to Toronto to visit Rogers Centre and the area around the stadium. If you live in road trip range, I recommend sucking it up and driving. Sure a flight saves time and effort, but driving saves you money! Just make sure you have change for toll roads and bridges (I ended up paying just over $10.00 in tolls round trip) and a passport. There was some construction on I-190 N at Exit 9, but I followed the detour through Buffalo and I don’t think it added too much time to my trip. The long wait came when I was crossing over the border to Canada. The line back to the States was WAY longer. I didn’t return this way to avoid the congestion and crossed back over the Rainbow Bridge. As a bonus I got to see the Falls from my car… pretty!
Once I got into Toronto, parking was my next concern. I checked out the Blue Jays website before I left and saw there were plenty of garages around the park, so drove around a little until I settled on Simco Place (maybe a five minute walk to Rogers Centre) for $15. I could have kept looking, but I was anxious to get out of my car and walk around. The night before I saw tickets on StubHub were still $24+ and sorry, I wasn’t about to pay that to see this match-up (Blue Jays vs Orioles). I walked to the ticket office and got a seat in the 500 level for $16, which I still felt was a bit much, but whatevs, I needed to get in. I asked where Real Sports Bar and Hoops were located since my phone doesn’t work in Canada. This is a very serious first world problem in my opinion! Luckily they were both just a ten minute walk down the street towards the arena. While I was walking I noticed the Convention Center is almost right next to Rogers Centre. It has a metro exit for those who end up using public transit. I stopped in Hoops Sports Bar first and got the drift it was more of a restaurant than a bar. The inside is nice, though it wasn’t very crowded. I continued on to Real Sports Bar & Grill, which ESPN voted #1 North America. Yeah, its pretty cool! They have a movie theater sized television at the main bar and guess who was on, my Yankees! Automatically I loved this bar! There are multiple bars and restaurant areas in the two levels and the crowd was mainly Blue Jays fans heading to the game. I talked to a few who were really nice and ended up meeting an Ohio State fan. I’m a Buckeye, so this made my day! I had dinner here and it was fine, what I expected from a bar restaurant. Also it should be noted that
@kenshathaway is very right, the serving staff is quite attractive!
Once I left Real Sports, I went back to Rogers Centre and walked around the stadium once before going in. When I visited in 2008 the roof was open, so I felt like I was in a different stadium with it closed. An usher told me they had just added more lights, so this season it was a lot brighter with the roof closed. Also, I found out it takes 20 minutes for the roof to open/close, which seems like a long time nowadays (Chase Field’s roof opens in under five minutes). I walked around the main level and watched the Orioles batting practice. See a video pan around the stadium from field level here.
When the game started, I walked up to the standing room behind home plate. If you don’t mind standing during the game, this is the best option for being close to the field action without shelling out a lot of money on a seat. I chatted with the usher, David, and he told me more about the stadium and was a great host for the inning I hung around. Stadium ushers are usually the best people to make friends with during visits since they tend to be a wealth of information on the stadiums and cities they’re in.
Next I walked along the 200 level, which has great elevated views of the playing field and the all you can eat section. Then I headed up via the elevator to the 500 level. There are a bunch of ramps, but I was feeling lazy! This level was packed with Blue Jay fans and was pretty loud compared to the other areas, except the bleachers. I like being around the “common fan” because they are the most entertaining and you get the real passion of the fan base. I took some video from this level to show that it really wasn’t a bad view, see it here.
The rows are very steep, so they don’t seem that far away from the field action. I went to my seat and watched the rest of the game and enjoyed the crowds, though the Orioles ended up beating the Blue Jays 6-4. The five Orioles fans I saw in attendance went home happy. All in all I had a good time at Rogers Centre. Its not my favorite park, but it and the city are worth visiting for MLB diehards and casual fans alike. I didn’t stay in Toronto this trip since I was visiting Pittsburgh the next day, so ended up spending about $55 on my ticket, parking, tolls, and food in Toronto. My hotel in Pennsylvania was $70 and gas for my entire trip was $80. Not bad for visiting two cities in two days!