Wednesday, June 25, 2008

While on a recent business trip to Toronto, I had the opportunity to catch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Seattle Mariners at the Rogers Centre. It had been 17 years since my last visit there, back when it was called SkyDome. I visited while on a road trip with some friends, including Bismo. In those pre-Camden Yards days, SkyDome was pretty much-state-of-the-art, with it's retractable roof and hotel rooms with a view of the field. I was interested to see how the intervening years had affected my impressions of the place and how it had held up.

I went over with a few co-workers from Boston who were also on Toronto for the meeting. Numerous people told us that the best way to get from our hotel to the stadium was on the subway, so that's what we did. We got some tokens (no smartcards here yet) and found our train. One odd moment - the driver jumped out of the train and yanked on something attached to the front. It looked for all the world like someone revving up the propeller on an old airplane. Despite this, we made it over to the station nearest the ballpark unscathed.

Between the subway station and the ballpark were a number of, um, "independent ticket brokers". One of them stopped us and one of my companions decided to negotiate. Minutes later, he came back with four box seats, four rows off the field, just to the outfield side of the first base dugout. He ended up talking the guy down to $40 each, $10 less than face value. Try doing that around Fenway Park!

We entered the Rogers Centre and my overwhelming impression was that the place looked worn. It has many of the negatives of '70s and '80's ballpark architecture: artificial turf, multi-purpose stadium, lots of concrete and overall just a bit bland.

The other thing that struck me was how empty it was. With 400+ consecutive sellouts, we have become accustomed to big crowds at Fenway. The Blue Jays claimed attendance of 20,073 at the game, which I thought was generous. Here's a shot (with my cell phone camera) of the crowd just after the start of the game (this is the view from our seat, by the way).

I had a hot dog (pretty good) and a Molson Canadian (gotta stick with the local stuff), along with a bag of peanuts later on. Prices were pretty standard for a major league ballpark, maybe a bit higher with the GST tacked onto the price of everything. The oddest food item I saw was the Pickle on a Stick ($1.77).

One thing I didn't understand was that they had Bud listed as a "domestic" beer. Hello? Wasn't I in Canada?

The game itself was pretty entertaining. Jarrod Washburn pitched for the Mariners, facing Jesse Litsch. They both pitched six innings, with Washburn giving up a run and Litsch giving up two on a home run by Jose Vidro. The Jays tied the game in the 7th, setting up an exciting 10th inning. The Mariners scored a run to take the lead on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Miguel Cairo. The Blue Jays managed to load the bases with none out in the bottom of the inning off Mariners closer J.J. Putz, but Lyle Overbay hit into a first to home double play and David Eckstein flew out to Ichiro for the final out and a 3-2 Mariners win.

We walked back to the subway and made it back to the hotel (no need to wind up the train this time). Rogers Centre certainly doesn't make my top ballparks list, but it was a fun evening with good company.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker