Thursday, March 31, 2011

The BJH Guide to the Blue Jays Home Opener

By
Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
There is no bigger day for drunken baseball debauchery in the city of Toronto than the Blue Jays Home Opener. It's like Christmas for baseball fans; where we all finally get to open the gift we've been waiting 6 long months to unwrap.

In preparation for the biggest baseball day of the year, there are certain things fans must keep in mind when heading to the Rogers Centre this Friday.

Believe it or not, there are some unwritten rules to help you have a better Home Opener experience. The Opening Day Guide that the Drunk Jays Fans put together a few years ago is still an excellent primer, but I thought I would take my own little twist on it.

Transportation
Image courtesy of The Star
Unless you have the patience of a Tibetan monk, avoid driving to the game at all costs. If you're like me and coming in from out of town, you're best off either taking the Go Train or the subway.

The downside of taking the Go Train is the trains only travel every 60 minutes at night, so depending on when the game actually ends, you could be waiting up to an hour for the next train home.

Lately, I've been parking at Yorkdale Mall and taking the subway down to the Rogers Centre. Depending on traffic on the 401, you could hit some gridlock before you even get to the mall, so plan for traffic accordingly.

If you're on the east end of town and taking the subway, rather than getting off with the droves of Blue Jays fans at Union Station, get off at the St. Andrew Station and walk west on King Street, then take John down to the Rogers Centre.

I can't say for certain if that's actually any faster than getting off at Union Station and just taking the Skywalk to the Rogers Centre, but it's definitely a lot less claustrophobic getting off at the St. Andrew Station.

Taking this route also gives you the opportunity to grab some street meat on the way if you need a quick bite before you go into the dome.

Getting Past the Gatekeeper
Image courtesy of Flickr user PinkMoose
If you haven't already lost your marbles in transit to the Rogers Centre, then you should collect your bearings and head for the closest gate.

I'm sure you know by now that the gate number on your ticket is merely a suggestion. You are not required to enter at Gate 5 for example, it's just the closest gate to your seat.

However, droves of fans tend to congregate around the gates closet to Bremner (which includes Gates 5-9), so you might want to avoid that area.

I usually just come in through Game 2 which is at the northeast corner of the dome. It may be a bit of a hike depending on where your seat is located, but I'd rather trek through the Rogers Centre where I can grab a drink or stop for a bathroom break as opposed to waiting outside the dome.

For those who are feeling a little adventuresome and are trying to sneak liquor into the game, do so at your own discretion. You may get patted down by security on the way in and you may not, but I'm assuming the busier gates will probably let more people through untouched just to ease the congestion. 

Pre and Post Game Bars
Image courtesy of FreePhotoOfTheDay.com
As with any event, the closer you are to the epicentre of the action, the busier things are going to be. This means your bars in the immediate vicinity like St. Louis Bar & Grill, Hoops, the Loose Moose and Wayne Gretzky's will fill up very quickly.

And just forget about getting into Real Sports altogether because it's probably not even going to happen.

If you're looking for a bar or pub where you can actually sit down and have a few pints, I'd suggest heading north a few blocks or two and try the Elephant and Castle at King & Simcoe.

One word of caution when looking for pubs north of the Rogers Centre; I remember once we went to Fionn MacCool's on University after the game, only to discover that bars in the financial district close at 11pm.

I don't know if that applies for Friday nights as well, but there's nothing worse than just settling into a pitcher only to find out you have to vacate the bar in 20 minutes.

To be honest, I'm not all that familiar with the "hole in the wall" bars in downtown Toronto, so definitely get out there and check out whichever pub you can find. Or just defer to the experts on pre and post game bars, the Drunk Jays Fans.

Food and Drink
Image courtesy of The Baseball Collector
Most folks will probably have had a few pops by the time they enter the Rogers Centre, and rightfully so if they're looking to keep that buzz going throughout the evening.

I find the lines to get beer on Opening Day are absolutely ridiculous, so if you don't mind missing a few innings just to get some suds, then have at it. To me though, it's just not worth it to shell out $11 bucks for a beer.

You might get lucky and one of the beer vendors could make their way over to your section, but they usually get bombarded in one particular area and might not even make their way up to your row with enough beers.

Not to sound too brash, but if your primary reason for going to the Blue Jays Home Opener is to get loaded, then you should probably just go to a bar.

With food, it's generally the same rule; you're going to be waiting a long time to grab a $5 dollar hot dog or any other overpriced provisions from the food stands. If you can tie yourself over until after the game, by all means do so.

The Name of the Game: Have Fun! 

When it all boils down to it, most of the people at the Rogers Centre will be there for the same reason - to watch some baseball and to have a good time. And after being cooped up for six months without baseball, people are bound to get a little crazy.

So be patent on Friday, as things will obviously take a little longer at the Home Opener than they would on a normal game. Anticipate lines to get into the Rogers Centre, lines at the concession stands, the washrooms, and probably to get into bars afterwards.

It will no doubt be a great experience on Friday what will all the pre-game ceremonies to honour Roberto Alomar, Pat Gillick, and Jose Bautista.

And then of course there's the game, which regardless of the score, it will just be great to finally have the Blue Jays back in town. Have a Happy Home Opener, Blue Jays Fans!

6 comments:

  1. Here's how I do it... I drive to the dome cuz the wheelchair accessibility of the subway is sketchy at best. Underground parking is $20 but oh so convenient. With regards to food, I just fill the bag on the back of my wheelchair. I'm bring pastrami on an onion bun, Doritos, and Pepsi.

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  2. stosh, thanks for the comment! The only reason I'm weary of the underground parking is I usually find it's a nightmare to get out of there after the game. Once on a Saturday we were sitting there for an hour waiting for the garage to clear out.

    Good suggestion on bringing in your own grub - that definitely saves a lot of money, as something like that would probably cost upwards of $20 dollars at the dome. Enjoy the Home Opener!

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  3. I always bike down. No waits to get in or out!
    One of the hidden transit routes often forgotten is the Spadina streetcar - stops just a block from the box office!

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  4. sadp, that's an excellent strategy. Safe travels tomorrow!

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  5. Cheapest parking is at the Metro Convention Center (North is generally easier to get into). Best subway route (I've found) - is the Spadina line - catch the streetcar down (from Spadina station) & it's a short walk.
    Believe it or not - often the Hotel bars are best after the game (they stay open longer) - my favourite pub is the Wellington (at Wellington and Portland, just east of Bathurst). Best dogs (on the street, outside) - in the ballpark - the kosher dogs, 100% beef, rock.

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  6. pablo, thanks for the tips! I just might have to hit up a hotel bar tomorrow night if pubs are too packed around the Rogers Centre. Cheers!

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