Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — How ’bout dem Blue Jays?
I never thought I would be saying those words when the season began — not sure anyone did — but the Toronto Blue 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? Not only is the longest playoff drought in North American pro sports officially over but the Jays are American League East champions for the first time since 1993. The timing couldn’t be better for the city and the entire country. This the Year of Sport in Canada, a key reason why Toronto was selected as Vacay.ca’s number one choice in our annual 20 Best Places To Visit In Canada for 2015.
Toronto was supposed to steal headlines in the summer because of the Pan Am Games. The Jays have extended the revelry with their remarkable run to the postseason, making Canada’s largest city the place to be in October.
There’s a real buzz about Canada’s Team in pubs, offices, schools, on the streets of Toronto and across the country, and that isn’t going to change despite losing the opener of the American League Divisional Series to the Texas Rangers, 5-3, in front of a crowd of 49,834 screaming fans at Rogers Centre. Could another trip to the World Series be on deck for this team?
Make Some Noise in Toronto
I was in university 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 this October, be prepared to pay. A single game ticket to the American League Championship Series alone will cost you $425 When, yes I said when, they get to the World Series expect to pay $1,400 for a single game. Moments like this don’t come along often so if your pockets are deep enough I suggest you take advantage.
Where To Watch The Game
If you’re not in a position to buy your way into 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 Street / 416-815-7325), which is located at Maple Leaf Square. The square itself is a prime spot to catch the ballgame. Three restaurants reside in the small area outside of Air Canada Centre, 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 Real Sports Bar.
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. Best part? It’s just up the road from the Rogers Centre.
The Loose Moose (146 Front Street 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 HDTVs 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.
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. Torontonians have been gathering 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 Boulevard).
MORE ABOUT BLUE JAYS
Blue Jays Website: toronto.bluejays.mlb.com
Rogers Centre Website: toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/ballpark/index.jsp
Address: 1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto, ON (see map below)
Purchase Tickets: toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/ticketing/index.jsp?c_id=tor
Blue Jays Playoff Schedule: www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/full-mlb-post-season-schedule-revealed/
Getting There: 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.