Toronto Blue Jays - Rogers Centre

Congratulations to the Toronto Blue Jays on winning the ALDS!

In honor of the Toronto Blue Jays epic win last night or what will forever be referred to as "The bat flip heard 'round the world" I thought I would share a review/photos of our recent fan experience at the Rogers Centre. 

My family and I (myself, hubby, two kids, one MIL and one BIL) visited in late August on a promotion day. The giveaway was a bobblehead commemorating the 1985 Blue Jays Division Championship with three players on a single bobblehead, Jesse Barfield, George Bell and Lloyd Moseby (Bell and Moseby taught The Oldest during a Blue Jays Baseball Camp he attended. Moseby even knick-named him "The Man").

We knew that going to see the red hot Jays on a bobblehead day we were in for crowds which is nothing new since the Jays have been selling out games for the past few months. What I had not expected was the early lining up one must do to get a bobblehead. Luckily my hubby did anticipate this and we were in line more than a few hours before the gates opened.

The staff who were manning the line told us people started lining up at midnight. Midnight for a bobblehead?!?! Just crazy. Anyway, this is very far away from the gate and we stood here for hours. With no coffee. And it was 10 in the morning. The line eventually went all the way back to the ACC and if you are familiar with the area, you know that is one monster line! Well it was all in good fun and once the line started to move we were in very quickly and that's having your bags checked and walking through the MLB regulated metal detectors. 

The bobblehead is pretty cool and since we are a family of four, we each got one and later made a few trades online to get ones that we missed out on earlier in the year. What are we going to do with these things? I have no idea but we have four different ones now. I'm sure they will eventually find a home somewhere in our house.

I will say that I have been a lifelong fan of the Jays and the SkyDome (that's what it was called when it first opened). I was there on a school tour the year it opened and returned every year with my elementary school to watch a game. During the not-so-great-years (that would be the early 2000's) my hubby and I would take our boys to games every week, for a while we lived close by and visiting was easy, for $2 tickets and while we were there they would give you coupons to return for your next game free. They could not give away tickets. Now, good luck getting your hands on any. All this to say that yes, I do love the Jays but that doesn't mean I have overlooked some of the not so nice things going on in this stadium.

Anyway, back to the fan experience at Rogers Centre.

What I like about the Rogers Centre

  • The organization. We have a great team of stellar players, John Gibbons is a phenomenal coach and with Alex Anthopoulos at the helm, we are a force to be reckoned with. Mark Shapiro was recently named as President and he was the driving force behind the upgrades at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, so I have high hopes that some of the things on my not-so-fond-of list will be resolved. 

  • The Architecture! Seriously it is just the greatest. The CN Tower over looking the field, every seat has a good view (ok yes minor exceptions behind poles) and we don't have to freeze outside in April or October like other cities have to. 

  • Ok, this may fall into the above point, but watching the dome open is so much fun I felt it deserved to be on the list all by itself. It takes just over 20 minutes to fully open or close and it gets me in the feels every time. 
  • Transit and parking is actually really good. You can park right at the Rogers Centre (I never have and I hear it's expensive) or you can park at any number of lots surrounding it, my favorite is to park underground at Simcoe Place or even better, take the train in. Union Station is a short walk from the stadium and it picks up from so many locations outside of Toronto you never have to worry about driving downtown, which some days is enough to make you want to stay at home. 
  • The location itself is great. It's right downtown so there is a lot to see and do. There is the Steam Whistle Brewery, Ripleys Aquarium, CN Tower, Air Canada Centre and the Convention Centre all right beside Rogers Centre. Venture a little further away and you will find amazing restaurants (my fav here), incredible shopping and interesting districts like the Entertainment District that is within walking distance. 
  • FREE WI-FI. Everyone rejoice! This was an enhancement this year and one that is very welcomed by visitors from other countries and kids without 3G (like my boys). When we visit ball parks in the States it's so nice to have Wi-Fi to be able to connect with the team via social media and post in real time. 
  • The pro shop is surprisingly well stocked and the prices arn't completely outrageous. In the past I have bought tshirts, jersey's, memberships to the Jr Jays Club for the boys, bats, balls, autographed balls and even once third base that was used during the first four innings from the Jays/Red Soxs game we were attending. 

What I am not so fond of at Rogers Centre

  • Food selection is limited with no real signature item. And please do not add something like "poutine". I'm Canadian and I've never had that and never will. I grew up in Canada and had never even heard of it until I took a trip to Montreal in my early-20's. When pitcher David Price joined this year he remarked that he was happy because he loves the popcorn at the Rogers Centre so much. Really? It doesn't taste any different than the popcorn at Yankee Stadium or Fenway, or any other ball park I've been to. A few years ago they upgraded one area to create a fresh market style store where you can buy food and drinks. They also added a standing room only style party deck that was pretty cool when it first opened. Both are in need of updating. 

This was the line The Youngest and I were in to get a plain old hotdog. It took us 40 minutes. I won't even complain about price, it's on par with other stadiums.

  • Long lines (and I mean like waiting at an amusement park to get on the best ride type lines) inside the stadium and the location of food vendors in the concourse. The food kiosks (there really is no better word for them) are so far out in the concourse it makes it difficult to line up and/or walk around. I find it extremely weird that they are just kiosks and not permanent structures against the outer wall (my only hope is this is part of a plan to do that next year but since it's been like this forever, I doubt it). The crowding was unbelievable this year. It's the first ball park I've been to that I did not feel comfortable letting my kids go to the bathroom/pro shop on their own just due to the overcrowding. The only solution is to expand and since they are right downtown with little space surrounding the stadium I'm not sure that will happen.

My beautiful, baseball loving, family.

  • Not very family friendly. Yes, there is Jr Jays Saturdays where kids can run the bases (children 14 and under), my boys have run the bases since they could walk, but aside from that there is nothing to entertain children. The Tigers have a ferris wheel shaped like baseballs, the Indians have an amazing Kids Club House, which I reviewed here. Toronto needs to add something for kids as well. (I once heard a rumor they had an inflatable slide for kids outside but I have never seen it or any proof that it exists).
  • In game entertainment is lacking. Badly. If I hear the Adams Family theme again imma gonna scream. They have been playing that same song since the Dome opened in '89. After seeing all the amazing videos, music and fan/social media interactions at various ball parks this year (here are a few of the games I have been to), the Rogers Centre is down right boring.  
  • I'm also going to add the lack of social media and interaction with the fans. I guess they post often enough but they miss a golden opportunity in responding to fans. The Blue Jays Facebook and Twitter feeds have an active community of fans. I have asked questions on these forums and never received a response. Others feel the same way. I have watched other teams interact with the fans, the Cleveland Indians are the best at this, so I'm not quite sure what the problem is. Maybe their hands are tied and they cannot respond or 'like' a fans comment. But since the world is plugged in and online for the majority of their waking hours, they should probably think about updating their policy. 

  • I'll keep this one as short as I can. While I think it's very cool to be able to see the team's sports broadcasters live I will never for the life of me understand why these two insist on being so overly critical of the team and it's players. I have not seen this while watching other teams broadcasts. Maybe they think it's a Canadian thing to be self depreciating? It's not and Gregg Zaun isn't Canadian. Time for an upgrade here Blue Jays, and preferably to someone who actually likes the team. 

I really want to hear your thoughts, do you agree or disagree with my statements? I know there are a lot of Toronto fans out there and that y'all are very opinionated (if you saw they game last night you will know that we like to disagree with the MLB rules from time to time. Who made up this lie that Canadians are polite anyways LOL). 

Tell me what you love about your fan experience at Rogers Centre. Tell me what you dislike. And if you are from the Toronto Blue Jays, I am more than willing to work as a consultant for you to fix all these problems for the 2016 season.