Judging from news reports, I am one of the few people in Southern Ontario who was actually pretty excited that Toronto is hosting the Pan Am /ParaPan Am Games this time around. I know, It's not the Olympics, but I still think it's kinda cool that something this big is going on here. We had intended to see an event, just so we can say we were there and saw something happen. The nice thing about not all the events taking place in the city of Toronto is that those of us who just cannot stand the congestion can see an event in relative peace.
So on Canada Day I received an email that they were having a 25% off sale, and I jumped at the chance and bought 4 tickets to see Canada VS Nicaragua in a preliminary baseball game at the President's Choice Pan Am Ballpark. For 2 kids (under 16) and 2 adults, I paid $80 after discounts, taxes, and fees. Not bad. But I know why tickets are so affordable. Well, two reasons, I guess. The first being that they want people to come, so if they price the tickets reasonably, there's a better chance that families like mine will go. The second has to be the sick pricing structure for pretty much everything else at the venue.
I do also have one more thing to gripe about - the organization at the venue. Going into the game, I was not impressed. Happy during. Leaving the game I was not impressed. Living in Durham, we know the route to take to get to the location of the venue, Audley & Taunton. However, I suppose they did not expect too many people to be arriving from the Durham Region, because there was only one sign, approximately ten feet from the street we would have had to turn onto, telling us that Audley was closed at Rossland. As we drove past it, I saw it very quickly, but was not able to read the whole sign. Quite frankly, even if I had seen it sooner, we would not have had time to turn on Lakeridge anyhow. So we had to drive further West, then North, then back East, following the signs to get to the ballpark. I was none too impressed with that. There should have been ample warning so we could make a decision as to where to turn North sooner.
We get there, park in the grass, with very little direction at this point from signs or volunteers. You kinda just have to wing it and hope for the best. Did I mention the car was a 15 minute walk from the actual stadium? Well, it was. Ugh. Although it was lovely to walk in nature before we got to the event, I could have done without it, and I could have done without the weird walking path they had. There were these hard rubber sheets to walk on with deep grooves on them. Unless you're wearing thick-soled shoes (which I wasn't), they hurt your feet. Then came the gravel path, always fun to get stones in your shoes when you have a long way to walk. It's summer... people are wearing sandals and flip-flops. These two choices for something to walk on would probably be lower on my list, maybe just above 'hot coals' and 'broken glass sprinkled with salt'.
We get to the actual stadium (bottom of the second), and I was really, really underwhelmed as to the sight that greeted me. I was expecting some food, drink, and merchandise vendors. Instead, there was the ballpark to my right, I think a huge field of porta potties on the left, and a few random people selling bottled tap water or beer out of coolers. Since it was general seating, it was tough to find anything. There wasn't really anyone helping out, either. I wasn't really impressed at his point by my experience. Getting out was worse... no direction whatsoever, the only exit signs to be seen at the end of the lot, and if you're there, you already know where the exit is.
We finally did find some seats, and they turned out to be really great. We had a fantastic view of all the action, and since we were sitting in a predominantly Nicaraguan area, the players from Nicaragua were coming over and tossing balls into our area for the fans that stayed past the seventh inning.
All the doom and gloom aside, I enjoyed the game. I am definitely more interested in winter sports, however, I have to say that it's always fun when your team is winning, and after a slow start, that's exactly what Team Canada did. The crowd was great, the seating sucked, but the experience was still enjoyable. As I mentioned before - organization was poor, which is pretty sad.
Don't let my doom and gloom stop you from going to see a game or two yourself. It's a once in a lifetime thing happening right now, and you should endeavor to take part in it in some small way. It is a great thing, and we should take pride in it.
One last thing. There has been a whole lot of talk about how little everyone cares about these games. I do want to point out that although I think it's great that they're here and I'll support them, they were really doomed from the start. Here in Ontario we are way more interested in winter sports than summer ones. We're also not the rowdiest of fans on a good day. Then, you have to remember that these are North & South American games. No European countries. You want tourists and pandemonium? Host a sporting even with European countries as participants. They'll come in droves. Just sayin'.
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