Sporty Fun in Downtown Toronto

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“Sport fans in Toronto have a lot to cheer for,” said James Hinchcliffe, one of Canada’s top race car drivers. We had the chance to catch him in action at the Honda Indy Toronto. This annual festival takes place in July at Toronto’s Exhibition Place with over 150,000 fans attending three days of races, displays and family-fun activities.  It’s the second-longest street race in the series and has cars flying along Lakeshore Boulevard at speeds commuters can only fantasize about. “It’s like they’re punching a hole through the air,” said my race-obsessed son, who spent his time between races, gawking at engines and collecting autographs for his hat.

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The Honda Indy is just one of the reasons why sports fans of all sorts flock to The Six. What makes Toronto such a great sports city? We posed this question to Hinchcliffe.

“Having one of the original six hockey teams made it a diehard hockey town from the get-go,” he said. It’s home to the country’s only MLB and NBA teams, both champions. And that’s before you even account for the Argos, the Rock, Toronto FC and, of course, the Honda Indy.

“There really is something for any sports fan.”

We agree. And so we’ve put together some activities for sports enthusiasts to enjoy in the city.

Toronto’s FC soccer team with its slogan “All for One” unites super fans from all parts of the world for lively matches at the BMO Field at the Exhibition Place. Also playing at this stadium on the lakeshore are the Argos, who have won the Grey Cup a record 17 times.  On sunny days, the roof of the Rogers Center opens up to summer blue skies to watch a Blue Jays baseball game. The Toronto Wolfpack, the first completely professional rugby team in the country, plays out of Liberty Village’s Lamport Stadium, sometimes referred to as ‘The Den’.

 The Leafs are not on the ice for a couple of months, but hockey addicts can get their NHL fix at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

At the CNE, Canada’s largest fair that runs from August 16th – September 2nd, you can view the 70th anniversary of the Canadian International Air Show, featuring the return of Britain’s renowned Red Arrows. On a non-sports related note, new to the CNE this summer is the travelling exhibition, 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic.

Marriott City Centre Hotel

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Right off the bat, this Field View Room was a hit for our family with its floor-to-ceiling window looking out onto the Rogers Center stadium. The Marriott City Centre is the only hotel in the world actually inside a major league sports stadium. It’s 50,000-plus seats looked surreal from above, and we could only imagine how many games must have been watched, while guests were perched up on the window-facing bar.

The hotel covered all the bases, with 338 large, renovated rooms and suites; ultra-comfortable beds; 55″ LED HD televisions offering all your favourite apps (Netflix, YouTube, etc.); fitness center and indoor pool. And stepping up to the plate for your furry friends? They offer pet-friendly hotel rooms and suites.

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Located on the main floor is the newly-opened SportsNet Grill, a 220-seat restaurant with direct views of the stadium. Be sure to reserve window seats on game days when they have two seatings (5PM for batting practice and warm-ups and 7PM to view the full game).

With all these sporty diversions happening this summer, it makes waiting for the next Raptors’ season almost bearable. (By the way, their first game is on October 22.)