Part 3: The Pre-Season

Olympique Stadium – Exhibition Game Jays vs Mets

March 29th, 2014. Blue Jays shut out the Mets 2-0.


Our journey across America to see all 30 current MLB stadiums continues in none other than non-America aka Canada where we visited a former MLB stadium but more importantly a former Olympic stadium. While not part of the official stadium 30 park tour it was a cool place to check out a pre-season game.

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Fun Fact: Montreal Tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world.

Right away Olympique Stadium or “Big O” appears to be fairly dated. Other than the giant inclined tower (Montreal Tower) coming out of the base of the stadium the whole thing is a standard giant concrete donut.  The inside is much of the same, even the  vendors look like they haven’t updated their food pictures since the 1970s.

While we like to get to stadiums a couple hours before game time, this day we were running late a got there maybe 10 minutes before first pitch. And when we got there it looked like they had only recently opened the doors as there was an insane mass of people still trying to get to their seats through the one main entrance. We got through the doors as the national anthems were playing, grabbed beers and went looking for our seats. Now the problem with this stadium is that it is divided by odds and even sections. So when we entered and was looking for section 449(I don’t remember the actual section) we saw 408 and then 410 to our left so we figured numbers went up to our left. We got all the way to something like section 450 in far left field along with many other confused fans before we realized we were actually supposed to be in the exact opposite spot in right field. And there is no walkway crossing the outfield so we had to go around the entire stadium. In our defense the directions in the stadium are all in French, plus splitting odds and evens on opposite sides of a park is really nonsensical. For all you people reading this working in the numbering stadium section business please just number them 1,2,3,4,5 in order.

While we missed the top half of the first trying to find our seats the rest of the game was a lot of fun. Crowd was a mix of Toronto fans and Expos fans. There were a couple of times during the game the Montreal(ites?) started “let’s go expos” chants. I didn’t have the heart to tell those drunk fans the expos aren’t a thing anymore. The game ended with a Jay’s win because it was pre-season and it didn’t matter. There is only one exit from the stadium so it takes forever for 50,000 people to get out. And then there’s a subway station that is not designed to handle nearly enough people that it needs to. When we got to the station after the game it looked like a 30 minute line just to get in so we ended up walking.

 

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While we usually like to get some food at stadiums we visit we didn’t get a chance this particular time. Which is fine considering Montreal has some great food options so filling up on hotdogs and popcorn may not be the best idea. If you have never been to Montreal you’ll want to get some smoked meat sandwiches and some poutine at some point during your stay. For you Americans if you’ve never had good poutine or any poutine for that matter, it will change your life, proceed with caution.

While I liked visiting Olympique Stadium, it’s not really something I feel the need to do again. The stadium is not well designed for baseball and Montreal isn’t exactly a baseball town so unless you are a Jay’s fan wanting to see pre-season games you might be disappointed in the experience. If you do go you’ll likely enjoy the other aspects of the city which I visited a couple times since this trip.

Completed stadiums: 1 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

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Part 2: Home Field Advantage

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Centre

June 19th, 2013. Toronto defeats Colorado 5-2 for the sweep. (Our first game together)


Being from TO we never really consider Toronto to be a part of the tour, as the motivation for the tour is to travel around America to see parks we wouldn’t otherwise see. We have been to Rogers Centre, formally known as the Skydome, collectively hundreds of times. While it may not seem like an all impressive stadium to us, the general consensus is… we’re right it’s not the impressive. The stadium was built in 1989 and unfortunately it shows. Compared to the newer stadiums in the league Rogers Centre is aesthetically sad to say, not in the same league. However for many reasons Rogers Centre has plenty to offer for a great visit.

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One of the big pluses for Rogers Centre is the retractable roof. Retractable roofs are invaluable when planning baseball trips, nothing worse then spending money on tickets and hotel rooms only to have the game postponed for rain. The other very attractive quality for road trippers is the location. Rogers Centre is in the heart of the greatest city in Canada and the earth. For you Americans keep in mind when you visit Rogers Centre(not Center) you’ll get more for your American buck. And there are a number of great city attractions within walking distance of the stadium. You can check out Ripley’s Aquarium directly across the stadium or even the CN tower which overlooks the field. If you are a fan of sports other than baseball you may also want to walk over to the hockey hall of fame. These are just a few things to check out, there are countless other options that cover whatever might interest you.

Now enough about the greatest city ever, what can you actually expect at a Jay’s game you ask? Well for one thing, Toronto has no problem with fan attendance. The last couple seasons we’ve had the highest attendance in the American League. Which many people may find surprising thinking Toronto is just a hockey town. Although to be fair the stadium has a hockey goal horn as it’s homerun and game victory siren. Generally I like to sit in the 500s (third deck) behind home plate. The stadium is built with the levels right on top of each other so you never feel too far from the field but the higher you go the smaller the lines for food and drinks. If you like to sit really close be aware that some sections are non-alcoholic for the kiddies.

In terms of the crowd work at Rogers Centre it seems to be pretty lacking. The best new trope they have added the last couple seasons is the Josh Donaldson roof report. Basically it’s just a clip featuring newscast music and then JD telling the crowd in attendance if the roof is open or not, it’s actually a lot funnier than it sounds. For the seventh inning stretch Toronto plays a sing along song. The lyrics are terrible. The title of the song is “OK Blue Jays”, I can’t imagine what less inspiring titles they decided not to go with. The food available at the stadium is all pretty standard baseball items, hotdogs, popcorn,  ice-cream served in tiny little batting helmets.

 

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Overall I think most people would surprised how much fun they could have visiting Toronto for a baseball game. If you are flying into Toronto, don’t feel the need to rent a car to get around the city. Public transit is super easy to figure out and is especially great at getting to the major attractions in the city including Rogers Centre which is right next to the main Subway/Bus/Train station. If you are planning on driving to multiple stadiums the closest stadium is Comerica Park in Detroit, a little more than a 4 hour drive depending on traffic. In the other direction you can head to New York city to see a Yankees and/or Mets game.

Completed stadiums: 1 of 30

This concludes our first stadium visit of the tour. While this post is more review and Toronto sales pitch the next updates will come more from the perspective of someone visiting a foreign stadium. To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here