Scotiabank Arena – Toronto Maple Leafs
The year 1967 was a long time ago.
Ask any Toronto Maple Leafs fan 1967 will be a memorable year, even for the young fans. It was in 1967 that the Toronto Maple Leafs won their thirteenth and most recent Stanley Cup. Leafs Nation is extremely excited for the 2018-2019 NHL season as it looks like the best chance the Leafs have of breaking their Stanley Cup drought. The massive signing of free agent forward John Tavares in the off season has pushed the envelope about as far as it will go and it sure seems like now or never for the Leafs.
The Leafs were founded in 1917 as the Toronto Arenas. They would be renamed the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919. Each iteration of the team would bring home a Stanley Cup. The St. Pats would eventually become the Maple Leafs in 1927 and never look back. After another eleven Stanley Cup victories and a plethora of Hockey Hall of Famers in all categories, the Leafs have become not only one of the most important hockey franchises, but one of the most important sports franchises in the entire world.
The Leafs are owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a massive sports conglomerate that includes nearly all of the professional Toronto sports franchises. MLSE is owned by Rogers Communications, Bell Media and Larry Tanenbaum. One of the strangest ownership groups in all sport, Rogers and Bell are business competitors, but come together to form significant, equal ownership partners. MLSE also owns the home of the Leafs, Scotiabank Arena. Built in 1999, Scotiabank Arena has been renamed for the 2018-19 season and beyond in what is, to date, the largest naming rights deal in sport. The deal lasts for twenty years.
There’s a different feeling at Scotiabank Arena this season. Optimism is afloat. Fun is in the air. There just seems to be less angst. The Leafs have adopted the hashtag Leafs Forever for the season, and their tradition speaks to that, but what doesn’t seem like it will be forever is the Stanley Cup drought.
Food & Beverage 5
Concession options at Scotiabank Arena are as good as any other major league facility. Fans are not left wanting at Scotiabank Arena as there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. The Dog House offers a huge variety of gourmet hot dogs. MacCheesey has a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. For those who are health conscious, Freshii has a variety of wraps and bowls full of vegetable goodness. Porchetta, shawarma, BBQ, poutine, Pizza Pizza slices, and Mr. Sub sub sandwiches are all available also. Coca-Cola products can be found throughout the arena and Tim Hortons specializes in the hot drinks.
There are a huge number of national and craft brews that are available throughout the arena. The Crown Royal bar on the third level has a full service bar and the Molson Canadian Brewhouse also brews its own beer for consumption at the arena. Concession prices are not cheap, but are not out of the realm of what one would expect at a major league facility.
Scotiabank Arena’s exterior is attractive but not overly spectacular. Although the address is on Bay Street, it really should be viewed from the other side. Maple Leaf Square offers the most iconic view of the arena featuring a massive video board, lots of windows for natural light inside and the iconic lights structure, “Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light,” which has been there since the beginning. The newest attraction to the west side of Scotiabank Arena is Legends Row. With a history as long and proud as the Maple Leafs enjoy, this collection of bronze statues has become a focal point to the exterior of the arena. Maple Leaf icons Red Kelly, Frank Mahovlich, Charlie Conacher, Wendel Clark, Ted Kennedy, Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Syl Apps, George Armstrong, Mats Sundin, Dave Keon, Turk Broda and Tim Horton are all members of the row.
Entry through the Galleria offers fans the opportunity to see some of the history of the building that was once the Canada Post Delivery Building. A number of promotional banners for both the Leafs and Raptors also hang in the Galleria.
The concourses of Scotiabank Arena provide a treasure trove of artifacts for fans who have the time to go hunting. Scotiabank Arena was once oppressive with the advertising in the concourses, but that has subsided over the years. Iconic moments for the Maple Leafs, Raptors and the arena are all over the walls and well worth a look.
The interior of Scotiabank Arena offers fans two main levels of seating which are split by luxury boxes. The upper bowl especially offers a steeper slope which gives fans the opportunity to feel right on top of the action with great sight lines. Above centre ice is a modern, massively huge, four sided, curved video board which is state of the art. The video board is surrounded by the thirteen Stanley Cup banners and the retired numbers of Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, Hap Day, Red Kelly, Bill Barilko, Ace Bailey, King Clancy, Tim Horton, Charlie Conacher, Ted Kennedy, Syl Apps, George Armstrong, Mats Sundin, Dave Keon, Wendel Clark, Borje Salming, Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour. The ice surface runs from west to east with the perfect picture of the ice and logo coming from the south. The west side also features the newest fan area, the 600 level Fan Deck, which offers a different perspective on the game and rail seating.
The game day experience has the Maple Leafs consistently trying to keep the precarious balance between modern and tradition. The Leafs do an admirable job of keeping that balance. The pre-game videos do justice to both parts and a healthy dose of traditional hockey organ and modern music can be heard. Carlton the Bear can be seen moving throughout the arena and interacting with fans. One significant difference the Maple Leafs have made for the 2018-2019 season has been their rethinking of the goal song. Gone is the somewhat common electronica type music to be replaced with the Hall and Oates song “You Make My Dreams Come True.” A whole new feeling of fun and light-hearted optimism now permeates Leaf games. Although this may seem like a minor change, it has fans taking notice and talking, not just in Scotiabank Arena, but fans who watch on television also.
It is difficult to argue that there is a better location for a sports facility anywhere than the Scotiabank Arena. Located right in the heart of Downtown Toronto, Scotiabank Arena is near anything and everything a sports fan could want. Harbourfront is a couple of blocks south of the arena and has its own distinct vibe to it. Although not the most lively spot in the dead of winter, an early or late game in the season will reward fans with some Harbourfront activities. There are tourist attractions abound within walking distance or a very short ride. The CN Tower is just to the west and right beneath it is Ripley’s Aquarium. The iconic Eaton Centre is at the centre of Toronto’s shopping scene and is north of the arena. Also, Toronto’s theatre scene is second in North America only to the theatres of New York. There are always Broadway-style shows playing and lots of events for fans to catch while in Toronto. However, any hockey fan worth their salt must consider a stop at the Hockey Hall of Fame to be a necessity. Located on Front Street, just past Union Station, the Hall of Fame is filled with interactive activities, NHL and International exhibits and the enshrined members of the Hall of Fame share the Grand Hall with all of the NHL trophies, including the Stanley Cup.
Sports fans will find Toronto a paradise for sport options and the opportunity to fit in a doubleheader is high. Scotiabank Arena is shared with the Toronto Raptors of the NBA and Toronto Rock of the NLL. Also just beneath the CN Tower is Rogers Centre, home of baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. Heading west along Lakeshore Blvd will bring fans to Exhibition Place, Toronto’s fairgrounds, and BMO Field, home to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and soccer’s Toronto FC. Immediately across the parking lot from BMO Field is the Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. There are more sporting options to the north of Harbourfront where Toronto’s universities can be found. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues play hockey at Varsity Arena, basketball at the Goldring Family Centre for High Performance Sport and football at Varsity Stadium. Ryerson University calls the former Maple Leaf Gardens home for basketball and hockey. The Rams play hockey at Mattamy Home Ice at Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens while the basketball team plays at Coca-Cola Court at Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens. York University is the furthest north at the edge of the city and play football at York Stadium, hockey at Canlan Ice Sport York and basketball at Tait McKenzie Centre.
There are a ton of options for fans looking for some pre or post game food and drink. In Maple Leaf Square, fans can find RealSports, which is also owned by MLSE. Front Street has a plethora of options including Boston Pizza, Jack Astor’s, Azure, Kelly’s Landing and The Loose Moose. Other great options include Miller Tavern and The Fox.
There are also a number of hotel options right downtown. The Westin Harbour Castle, Strathcona, Fairmont Royal York, Delta Toronto and Toronto Marriott City Centre are all within walking distance of Scotiabank Arena. However, fans should keep in mind that staying in Downtown Toronto can be a bit expensive.
Assessing Maple Leaf fans is always a challenge. Leaf fans, although long suffering, have been fiercely loyal. For decades, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been perennial sellouts for each home game. They consistently rank near the top of the NHL in average attendance per game. For the last four seasons the Maple Leafs have averaged over 19,000 fans per game and over 100% capacity per game. They have ranked between third and fifth each season in the NHL. The challenges for the Leafs in the past have been around how the fans in the stands act. Leaf fans have long been accused of being too corporate. Lately, there seems to be more blue and white in the stands and fewer blazers. There is a different feeling at Leaf games at the moment and it seems to be louder in the arena. However, there remains a lack of creativity with regards to fans cheering and the old “Go Leafs Go” chant is about all visitors can expect. Continued energy provided by the fans will lead to a better score.
For the most part, getting in and about Scotiabank Arena is not terribly difficult. Traffic in Downtown Toronto can be frustrating at the best of times and right before a Leafs game is no exception. Scotiabank Arena is located quite far from Highway 401, the main east-west route through Southern Ontario. Along Lake Ontario, fans will probably be required to take either the Gardiner Expressway or Lakeshore Blvd. Lakeshore is probably the better option as getting on and off the Gardiner is a real challenge. There are a number of parking garages and surface lots around Scotiabank Arena so finding parking should not be an issue. Expense may be an issue as parking will easily go for $20 and up. For those interested in public transit, Toronto is perfect. Union Station is directly adjacent to Scotiabank Arena and houses TTC subways, GO Transit trains and even Via Rail trains. There are plenty of public transit options for fans. For maps, fares and schedules, fans should check out the TTC or GO Transit websites.
Getting into Scotiabank Arena, as with all major league facilities, comes with a number of security considerations. The changing nature of security at such venues makes it imperative for fans to research before heading to the games. Fans should check out the Scotiabank Arena or Maple Leafs websites for the most up to date security information. The most popular entrance to the Scotiabank Arena is through the Galleria. Fans are encouraged to consider other gates for entry. Ticket windows are also found in the Galleria. Inside Scotiabank Arena, the consistent sellout crowds make for crowded concourses and washrooms. However, moving around Scotiabank Arena is not awful and washroom facilities are decent.
Return on Investment 3
Unfortunately, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most expensive experiences in sport. According to the Fan Cost Index, the Maple Leafs are the most expensive experience in the NHL and at over $385, more expensive than most NFL experiences all but one NBA experience and all of MLB. With the advent of airline pricing, ticket prices can be difficult to determine. However, it is becoming commonplace for all Maple Leaf seats to be priced above $125 plus fees. Standing room can fall below the $100 threshold. With recent success on the ice, this situation will not get better. Concession prices are about what one would expect and parking can be on the expensive side. The Maple Leafs may be considered a “once in a lifetime” experience due to the cost. However, ticket prices are market driven and the market continues to support the cost. Unfortunately, attempting to return on such a high investment is problematic. The Leafs do all possible to provide the best possible experience and are continuing to make improvements. However, as a fan, be prepared to pay.
An extra mark for the change in fortunes for the Leafs on the ice. They are once again in a relevant position in the Toronto sports scene.
An extra mark for the vast history of the Leafs and their position as a member of the fabled NHL “Original Six.”
An extra mark for the Leafs front office making peace with Dave Keon and the Leafs alumni which has resulted in Legends Row.
An extra mark for the continued rivalries the Leafs have with so many teams including the Red Wings, Senators, Sabres and of course, the Canadiens.
An extra mark for the bold move of changing the goal song to a far more light-hearted selection, bucking the current trends in the NHL.
It is undeniable that the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most significant franchises in all of sport. For hockey fans everywhere, a pilgrimage to Scotiabank Arena is necessary for the fulfilling of the bucket list. The Leafs will provide a great experience and fans will not be disappointed. However, it is important for fans to save up as it is an expensive affair.
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There is no doubt that the experience at the Scotiabank Arena for the Toronto Maple Leafs is a good one. However, of great concern is the cost involved. With growing success on the ice, fans can fully expect the cost will continue to rise. The Maple Leafs Rebirth is good for Toronto and good for the NHL, but it may not be good for the wallet.
The Maple Leafs are one of the cornerstone franchises in the NHL and one of the famed “Original Six.” Their tenure over time has seen them produce nearly countless inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They have hoisted the Stanley Cup 13 times, the second best in the NHL. Die-hard Leaf fans will cringe when reminded that they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, and their performance on the ice in recent years has been mediocre at best. However, a trip to downtown Toronto and the Maple Leafs needs to be on your list if you are a serious hockey fan. You may only be able to afford to go once, but if hockey is your thing, then you need to get to the Hangar!