I’ve been wanting to see a Toronto FC game at BMO Field since the team’s inception but my visits to Toronto never lined up… until last Saturday! I was in town so I grabbed last minute tickets off StubHub and made my way to the pitch for TFC’s game against Houston. On my way to the game, I thought it’d be cool to do a blog about my experience. You’re now reading that idea turned reality.
For starters, the wait wasn’t a bad thing because I managed to ride out the team’s years of mediocrity (and turmoil… and apologies…). It was fun to see Jermain Dafoe on the field and the resulting spike in merchandise sales thanks to him. The stadium was littered with #28 jerseys. It seemed like De Rosario was a close second which surprised me. I thought I’d see a ton of Bradley jerseys but that wasn’t the case, at least in and around my section. Unfortunately, Bradley was on the sidelines for the game. Can’t have it all.
Upon entering BMO Field, I was impressed. It was a party like atmosphere with lots of energy. There was music, festivities, and fans seemed to be enjoying themselves. If anything, the music may have been a bit too loud as it was difficult to have a conversation. But I’m not one to complain about loud music. This is no Bomont (My apologies for the Footloose reference).
I got to chatting with a guy selling 50/50 for MLSE Team Up Foundation. It’s always surprising to see how low the 50/50 prizes are in some of the bigger venues. I’m a regular at St. John’s IceCaps’ games (AHL) and the prize is routinely in the neighbourhood of $15,000… and that’s in a 6,200 seat building. The prize on Saturday was $4,063. But either way, it’s great to see a 50/50 happening. It’s for a great cause. Some of the American venues I’ve been in are foreign to the idea.
Beer was first priority. I forgot to get cash out before the game so I asked one of the staff on the concourse if the bar accepted credit. The answer was yes. However, when I went to order at one of the quick bars, I was told none of the bars accepted cash. Bummer. I could see the quick bars being cash only, but I figured there’d be some sort of main bar. Apparently not. But that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. I just didn’t see one. But no worries, it is BMO Field after all. There were plenty of ATMs to be had.
As for beer, I thought the prices were reasonable for a pro sports venue. It ranged from $7.50 (14 ounces) to $14.50 (28 ounces) for Bud products. Apparently it used to be all Carlsberg. That would have been sweet. I didn’t get food as I had eaten right before the game but it seemed to be your standard stadium fare. Things like hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts. I didn’t notice any restaurants. But again, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any. Also, props to the guy selling tall boys in our section. He was really on his game. He was funny and got a few laughs out of the section (and I’m sure a few sales).
I sat in section 109 in the row 22. The sightlines were great and it was a beautiful night. I was impressed with the intimacy of the venue. It was a good change of pace from the cavernous Rogers Centre. ~20,000 seats for MLS seems like the perfect number (until you have to cover an extra $100M in salaries). The game was an announced sellout, the team’s 8th in a row at BMO Field. That being said, the seats weren’t full. But they were sold, and that’s what matters. I’m sure that’s a side effect of Houston being the opponent as my seats had a face value of $75 each but I got them on StubHub for $35.
Sitting in section 109, we were only a few sections over from the team’s supporter clubs and they really do make the experience that much better. There was plenty of chanting, singing, and jumping that was unmatched by sections that weren’t in the south end of the field. There were hecklers, but nothing on the level of the supporters. It was fun to be a part of (especially with the 4-2 comeback win). I’m sure it helps that they now have something to cheer about thanks to the improvement of the product on the field.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I’d go back. I’m glad I got to see BMO Field before the planned renovations. It’ll be interesting to see the transformation. One of the things I enjoyed was the intimacy of the stadium, so hopefully MLSE can retain that despite adding an additional 20,000 seats. But I’m sure the partial roof will be a welcomed addition for fans. If it was raining as opposed to 30 degrees and sun, it would have likely been a different experience.