Torontonians are known around the world for many different things. Some of our most well known traits are extreme politeness, a taste for authentic international cuisine and heavy usage of the slang word “eh”. If you ask a foreigner what they think about Toronto and Canadians, these three things and a few others are likely to top the list. One thing that most don’t know is how insanely competitive we are.
Toronto is the business capital of the country for a reason; tens of thousands of people from all over Canada have moved here for opportunity, education and earning potential. Our competitiveness isn’t limited to school and business though. We share an undeniable appetite for success and this is manifested in our addiction to sports. This isn't to say that we don't support our teams through the rough years, Toronto remains the only city in Canada to have a sports team in ¾ of the major sports (hockey, basketball, baseball and football). In fact, no other Canadian city has even a single team in the MLB and NBA.
So, we love sports, but why am I bothering to write about it now? The answer is simple, sports are an experience and Culture Toronto is all about giving you the inside track on Toronto experiences.
If you live in the city or GTA, there is no way that you haven’t heard about the Toronto Raptors making their way to the NBA Playoffs as a third seed. The playoff brackets are comprised of the top 8 teams from each conference and normally the top 4 teams will have home court advantage. The Raptors didn’t just squeeze into the playoffs, they did so in unprecedented fashion by winning 48 games out of 82 on the season and setting a franchise record for wins. And all this was accomplished by a team that every NBA expert and analyst pegged for another losing year.
The Raptors have become a successful team at just the right time. Torontonians rallied behind their Leafs, as they do every year, and were rewarded with shock and disappointment as they dropped out of the playoff race entirely despite a hot start to the season. Fans have become fed up with the Leafs and many have turned to the Raptors, as they have shown that they are resilient, tough and competitive.
If you haven’t yet had the chance, you HAVE to take in the atmosphere at a Raptors playoff game. Tickets are expensive, so attending the game in person isn’t always an option. If you want to experience what a playoff crowd is like, pick one of these bars/restaurants and make a reservation. You’re going to need it on game night.
Jack Astor’s is always a solid choice. There are a few things on the menu that will satisfy nearly anyone (fajitas, garlic bread, pastas) and of course they have the regular alcohol offerings and house beers/wines. Many Jack Astor’s locations have visible high definition TVs surrounding the entire perimeter of the restaurant. This means there is no bad seat in the house and every person at your table will be able to keep tabs on the action. If you want an experience you can count on, this a great choice for game nights.
Real Sports is the ultimate sports bar. They are the #1 sports bar in North America as voted by ESPN. They boast 199 HD TVs, a 39-foot HD big screen and over 36 beer selections. Prices aren’t too unreasonable either, as you can easily enjoy a meal and a pint for under $30. Make your reservations early or you won’t have a chance of setting foot in this bar on game night. Outside of actually being at the game, Real Sports will give you the most engrossing playoff experience.
If you need to be economical and still want to be surrounded by hundreds of Raptors faithfuls, you should definitely check out the Party in the Square. Tickets will inevitably sell out. To help accommodate fans that couldn’t buy or couldn’t afford tickets, MLSE is holding a party in the square during games. This takes place at Maple Leaf Square. There you will find some of the rowdiest crowds, out-of-backpack beer peddlers and an incomparable atmosphere. It’s one of the few times in the year that Cops will look the other way while you break a few minor laws in the name of supporting your home town team. Even for the most casual fans of basketball, the Party in the Square is an experience not to be missed.