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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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!
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!