Rogers Centre Guide – Where to Park, Eat, and Get Cheap Tickets
The White Dome While Closed - via Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust
The Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, is home to the Toronto Blue Jays. Many people are still pretty bitter about the fact that it has been renamed, and refuse to call it anything but SkyDome. Can't fool Toronto, they know what's up.
When the SkyDome was built in 1989, it was so modern everyone expected it to change the way all future ballparks were created. Its retractable roof and space-age feel represented a forward-facing Canada. But in 1992, Orioles Park at Camden Yards ushered in the area of the "retro-parks", and the SkyDome became a curiosity.
Oops. Sorry, buddy.
Unfortunately, like all rare gems, Rogers Centre comes at a price. Let's see if we can work on that...
Arriving at Rogers Centre
**WARNING: AMERICANS NEED EITHER A PASSPORT OR A NEXUS CARD TO ENTER CANADA**
Alternative/Public Transportion to a Blue Jays Game
Rogers Centre's central location make it easy for public transportation. Union Station just east of the Rogers Centre has a subway station and a train station. The Skywalk is an enclosed walkway will take you from Union Station to the Rogers Centre.
The yellow Yonge-University line stops in Union Station. It also connects with Toronto's other three subway lines.
Union Station is a Few Minutes Walk to the Park - via Flickr user kaybee07
From Union Station, you can take the Union Pearson (UP) Express, a shuttle which runs between the station and Toronto's international airport. This is outstanding for international travelers. It also makes stops between along its 25-minute run.
You can also take the Go Train to the Jays game. The public transportation drops you off within a few blocks of Rogers Centre, but the cost of a ticket varies depending on where you are coming from.
There are also fun transportation options. Rally Bus operates to Rogers Centre.
If you decide to avoid packed public transport, Rogers Centre is conveniently located for Uber pick-ups.
Driving to a Blue Jays Game
There is really nowhere to park for free at the Rogers Centre (at least that I know of). Usually metered parking is good for this, but in Toronto the meters are in effect practically all night. You would be forced to feed the meter constantly, which isn’t possible during a game.
That being said, there are a ton of affordable, convenient parking options near the stadium. With a little bit of planning, you should be able to get to the game with your sanity intact and a few extra bucks for a hot dog.
If convenience is what you’re looking for, there is a parking garage directly underneath of the Rogers Centre. It’s your most expensive option, but the elevators serving the garage deliver you right to the entry gate. This means the need to walk to and from your car is practically nil, which is great if you are wrangling kids or helping Grandpa fulfill his bucket list.
Perhaps the best value you’ll find is the garage at 478 W King St. Parking will cost less than your first beer, and it’s only a 10 minute walk from the stadium. You can actually reserve a space in the garage ahead of time through Parking Panda.
With this and other garages available, the most stress-free choice for affordable parking at the Blue Jays game is using Parking Panda. This lets you find a spot ahead of time and reserve it, so you know exactly where you are going before you ever leave your house. Here is a list of upcoming games, just click the date you need to find the cheapest spots:
Best Food At & Near Rogers Centre
Save Money on Food
You are allowed to take food into a Blue Jays game. The only request from the team is that you have it in some sort of bag or container (to avoid mess?) and no glass or cans (to avoid idiots). Rogers Centre also permits non alcoholic beverages to be brought in if they are 20 oz or less.
Depending on how you arrive at the stadium, you will see plenty of vendors outside and can usually find a better deal on a hot dog or other snack out there. Don’t be afraid to take it in with you to enjoy during the game.
When in Canada, celebrate hockey. Nearby at 99 Blue Jays Way - in honor of his number - is Gretzky's, a must-visit for any fan of the game. This restaurant, owned by "The Great One," features memorabilia and activities for kids. Paired with a trip to the nearby Hockey Hall of Fame, Gretzky's will satisfy poly-sports fans.
Food in Rogers Centre You Shouldn't Miss
The concession prices at SkyDome (for old time’s sake) are about what you’d expect – astronomical. The selection is relatively bland as well, so there is nothing to really look forward to.
Shopsky's Smoked Meat Stand - For a real taste of Toronto while in the park, check out the Shopsy's Smoked Meat stand on field level behind section 125. Their sandwich features the smoked meat, a juicier, more delicious version of corned beef. Shopsy's has been a Toronto favorite since it opened downtown in the 1920s, and while not dirt-cheap, the food is worth it just to appreciate the city and its heritage.
Cheap Blue Jays Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier." Even still, Rogers hosts the cheapest Red Sox and Yankees games you'll find.
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at Rogers Centre
Blue Jays tickets are not exactly in demand. What that means is you can find great value tickets to games at Rogers Centre. The best crowds will be when the Red Sox and Yankees are in town, but most of the fans will be cheering for the visitor.
Really the infield upper deck seats aren’t too bad, and for most games they face for the price of a couple of beers. They do have a strange element where there is a metal bar between each row. You may have seen this at places like Shea and the old Yankee Stadium, but I think this is the only place with these bars in every row. I don’t think they will be in your way, it’s just odd and worth noting.
The prices shoot up pretty quickly after that, for over double the price you can sit in the second deck of the outfield. I think out there you feel quite far away from the action. You also lose your view of the big screen in center field. That typically provides a good amount of between inning entertainment and statistics for the players during the game.
The Massive Scoreboard and Hotel Restaurant - via Flickr user jimcchou
If sitting closer to the action, avoid the back rows of sections 119-121 and parts of sections 101-108 and 135-142. Overhang from the 200-level deck causes obstruction.
For its price, avoid the 200-level seats. Many of them are obstructed by the upper level overhang. In addition, these seats offer only marginally better views than the 500-level (so why pay a lot more for not much better views?) while costing only a small amount less than the field level seats (so why not pay a little more for a much better view?) Either splurge on the field level seats, or pay pennies for the 500-level.
You also may know that Rogers Centre has an attached hotel. An interesting way to splurge may be to eat at the restaurant overlooking the stadium. You have to spend a set minimum a person on game nights (call for details), but you can call ahead to reserve a window seat so you get the game action for free.
Infield box seats will cost you more than this, and the restaurant option actually includes a nice dinner. Here is a link to the Arriba restaurant so you can check out the menu and make reservations if you would like.
Where to Stay While Visiting Rogers Centre
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you usually can find places to stay that are within walking distance to the Rogers Centre.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at Rogers Centre
Take the chance to celebrate Toronto in all its Canadian goodness.
1. The Level of Excellence - The Blue Jays don't really retire numbers like the American teams. Instead, they place the names of worthy players among the stars in a display called the Level of Excellence. Look on the 400-level for the opportunity to honor Roberto Alomar and other great Toronto ballers.
Ring Around with the Greats - via Flickr user Mark in NOVA
2. Learn more about Canada's baseball history by checking out the display cases behind section 102. This mini-exhibit includes artifacts from the Blue Jays history, including some unique pieces from the history of the Montreal Expos. The star is a bench from the old Maple Leaf Stadium (1926-1967).
3. O Canada! Since the Expos left Montreal, the Blue Jays have been the only team left to play Canada's national anthem at the start of games. For an added boost, join in with the crowd singing "OK Blue Jays" (the team's theme song) in the seventh inning.