Rogers Centre

The Informer

Best Bets

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Scream for One Direction, gorge on fried food at the CNE and eight other things to do this week

What to do in Toronto this week: August 2015, 17–23

(Images, clockwise from top left: the CNE, courtesy of the CNE; Art Spin, courtesy of Art Spin; Sail-In Cinema, courtesy of Ports Toronto; One Direction, courtesy of Sony)

Watch Ghostbusters from the prow of your yacht
Walk down any Toronto block this summer and you’re bound to bump into a free outdoor screening series. But Sail-In Cinema trumps them all. Featuring the world’s first floating two-sided screen, the three-night film fest welcomes both landlubbers, who congregate on the shore, and sailors, who watch from anchored boats. The ’80s lineup includes E.T., Ghostbusters and The Goonies. Thursday, August 20 to Saturday, August 22. FREE. Sugar Beach, 25 Dockside Dr., sailincinema.com.

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The Informer

Best Bets

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See Kanye at the Pan Am closing ceremonies, go to the WayHome festival and eight other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: Betroffenheit, courtesy of Panamania; Kanye West, courtesy of the Pan Am Games; Cirque Alfonse, by Luce Tremblay-Gaudette; Night It Up, courtesy of Night It Up)

(Images, clockwise from top left: Betroffenheit, courtesy of Panamania; Kanye West, courtesy of the Pan Am Games; Cirque Alfonse, by Luce Tremblay-Gaudette; Night It Up, courtesy of Night It Up)

Watch the Pan Am Games’ controversial closing ceremony
Despite a petition protesting his performance, Kanye West will close out the Pan Am Games. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: whatever your thoughts on Yeezus, he puts on an incredible show. He’ll be joined onstage by Floridian novelty rapper Pitbull, Canadian folk-rocker Serena Ryder, and a dazzling complement of dancers and confetti. Sunday, July 26. $50–$205. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, ticketmaster.ca.

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The Informer

Features

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Sex, Drugs and EDM: high times and overdoses in Toronto’s dance festival scene

The electronic dance music genre has spawned a $20-billion economy of giant festivals, thumping bass and designer drugs. The partygoers think they’re invincible. The overdoses tell another story

Crowd at Bud Light Sensation, an EDM festival at the Rogers Centre in November 2014

Thirty thousand people attended Bud Light Sensation, an EDM festival at the Rogers Centre in November 2014.

In the world of electronic dance music, summer is high season. Every weekend brings another festival, the crowd a teeming mass of flesh and neon, the air a cloud of confetti and glitter. The procession begins in May and builds, like a thudding EDM track, into an explosive climax: the Veld Music Festival, a giant two-day bacchanal that colonizes Downsview Park every August.

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The Informer

Sports

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because the Rogers Centre will rock again

(Images: Getty Images)

You have to be absurdly starry-eyed to be a loyal Jays fan in Toronto, but soon (and we’re not just saying this) that optimism will be validated. The team has four impressive starting pitchers, all under the age of 25. The Jays didn’t trade for them or sign them to bank-breaking free-agent contracts. They drafted and developed these players, which means they’ll be Jays for a long time. And with the money left over, the team can sign premium sluggers and base-thieving speedsters. When the playoffs finally return to the Rogers Centre, these four studs will be the ones to thank.

The Informer

How-To

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How the Rogers Centre turns a concrete floor into a field of dreams and fake grass

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

The artificial turf at the Rogers Centre has, oddly enough, been a source of some controversy over the past few years, because players think its tough, unyielding surface is leading to on-the-field injuries. Blue Jays management is doing everything in its power to hasten the arrival of honest-to-goodness natural sod, but the process is more complicated than it seems. Keeping grass alive and happy in a stadium requires all sorts of fine adjustments and mechanical upgrades. “We’re working with the University of Guelph on a specific species of grass,” says Kelly Keyes, Rogers Centre’s vice president of building services. “Ourselves and the Tampa Bay Rays are the last two teams that play on turf.” As a stopgap measure until the happy day when the real grass arrives, the stadium has just invested in a brand new set of Astroturf. According to Keyes, the new stuff has a more realistic, two-tone look—and, because it hasn’t suffered years of abuse, it’s also quite a bit softer than the previous turf, and not as heavy.

The fuzzy green carpet went down for the first time at the end of March, after Disney’s redundantly titled Frozen on Ice cleared out of Rogers Centre ahead of the start of baseball season. Here’s a step-by-step look at the surprisingly exacting process of turning a concrete floor into a lush, playable field of fake grass.

The Informer

Business

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“Ford Square” will be the latest in Toronto’s long line of unfortunate name sponsorships

(Image: Yzukerman/Flickr)

The soon-to-be-former Maple Leaf Square. (Image: Yzukerman/Flickr)

The Post reports that Maple Leaf Square, the space outside the Air Canada Centre where sports fans gather to watch games on a giant screen, will soon be renamed “Ford Square.” The new monicker isn’t a reference to the mayor (he wouldn’t be the first living chief magistrate to get a square named after himself, though he would be the first to earn that distinction on the heels of a rehab stint). The name is actually an homage to the Ford Motor Company, which is set to announce a major sponsorship deal with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The square’s renaming is obviously unfortunate, not only because of the inevitable confusion with the automaker’s crack-smoking soundalike, but also because the square currently has a name that means something to the people who spend time there, and soon it will have a name that means nothing to anyone but the people who brokered the sponsorship deal. But is this the worst instance of corporate renaming in Toronto’s recent history? Not even close. Here, a brief rundown of other things companies have managed to get named after themselves, to greater or lesser degrees of outcry.

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The Informer

People

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Person who won lifetime SkyDome tickets 25 years ago is still getting SkyDome tickets

Whenever a contest promises a “lifetime” of something as a prize, there’s some understandable skepticism about whether or not the winner will actually be able to keep collecting until he or she dies. And yet, in at least one instance, the system seems to have worked. For the SkyDome’s 25th anniversary (the stadium is, of course, now known as the Rogers Centre), the Star caught up with Kellie Watson, who won a lifetime’s worth of tickets in a contest held before the venue opened in 1989, and who continues to reap the rewards to this day. “It’s been fabulous,” she told the Star. “I’ve seen every concert I wanted to see plus more.” Faith in the “lifetime guarantees” on our backpacks and handbags? Restored.

The Informer

Sports

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Now that Ralph Wilson has died, are the Buffalo Bills headed to Toronto?

The Bills play the Miami Dolphins at Rogers Centre in 2008. (Image: gbalogh)

The Bills play the Miami Dolphins at Rogers Centre in 2008. (Image: gbalogh)

An old man died yesterday, and already Toronto sports fans are wondering who’s going to be getting his stuff.

The man was 95-year-old Ralph Wilson, and his “stuff,” of course, is the Buffalo Bills, a team he owned since its founding in 1960. Toronto has had its eye on the Bills for years—a series of “home games” at Rogers Centre during the past few seasons seemed intended partly to test the market—but speculation about a cross-border move didn’t get going in earnest until late last year, when it was reported that Jon Bon Jovi, of all people, was interested in bankrolling the transition. The theory at the time was that Bon Jovi and a small group of partners would buy the Bills after Wilson’s death, and then relocate the team to a new stadium in Toronto, built and operated by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

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The Informer

Sports

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Toronto’s 2014 Buffalo Bills home game is cancelled; Buffalo fans celebrate

The Bills play the Miami Dolphins at Rogers Centre in 2008. (Image: gbalogh)

The Bills play the Miami Dolphins at Rogers Centre in 2008. (Image: gbalogh)

The annual Buffalo Bills “home game” at Rogers Centre has been a reliable source of easy money for the team and a treat for Torontonian football fans who normally have to content themselves with CFL games, but it’s hardly surprising that news of the 2014 game’s cancellation has Buffalonians cheering. The Buffalo News is already calling the move “all kinds of good news for Bills fans.”

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The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: what I learned from working the graveyard shift at the Rogers Centre


Memoir: I was trying to make it in journalism and failing miserably. It took the world’s worst job to make me realize that even rock bottom has its perks

On my first night, I picked up a beer-soaked five-dollar bill and shoved it into my pocket. Some of my co-workers were high; some chugged the remains of half-empty beer cans. Everyone needed something to help endure the mind-numbing task of cleaning the Rogers Centre. Mine was searching for treasure in the trash.

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The Informer

Sports

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The Rogers Centre has mysteriously become baseball’s home run capital

(Image: Mike Babcock)

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista’s sudden fondness for pitcher R.A. Dickey’s pants is only the second weirdest thing to happen this baseball season. The Rogers Centre has emerged as a home run factory with a league-leading 121 already hit at the park (the average for all the MLB stadiums is 82). Some pundits say removing glass panes at the old Windows Restaurant created a magical wind flow that carries balls over the fence, a theory endorsed by television analyst Gregg Zaun and scorned by Bautista and at least one baseball-obsessed physicist. Another camp is pinning the surge on gusts from new condo towers nearby—though that doesn’t explain all the bombs hit when the roof is closed. Even more mysterious is that only 50 of the Jays’ current home run count of 108 came in their batter-friendly home park. [CBC]

The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Dance Weekend, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and four other events on our to-do list

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan plays The Garrison on Friday

1. YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN
Just decoding Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s description of their own sound—“psychedelic noh-wave opera group fusing noise, metal, pop and folk music into a multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool of ‘east’ meets ‘west’ culture”—would be sufficient fodder for an ethnomusicology master’s thesis. The Montreal and Toronto collective’s sort-of-proggy, sort-of-punky debut, YT//ST, was short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize last year (Feist ended up winning), and drew raves from the likes of Pitchfork for its inventive sonic textures and pulsing rhythms. Their live show has earned buzz for its theatricality, including costumes that recall Japanese theatre and KISS in equal measure. January 18. $10. The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. W., 416-519-9439, ticketweb.ca

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The Dish

Food TV

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The Layover in Toronto: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite spots and best quips

Anthony Bourdain taking bone luge shots at The Black Hoof with Ezra Title; Bourdain with Scott Vivian at Porchetta and Co. (Images: Courtesy of Travel Channel)

For last night’s episode of The Layover, Anthony Bourdain and his merry crew squeezed as many of Toronto’s culinary delights as possible into their 30-odd hours in the city (we covered his trip back in July). And while he seemed genuinely impressed with some of what he saw, we’re not gonna lie: it was pretty much Bourdain by the numbers. Quirky store owner? Check! (Olivia Go of Tosho Knife Arts). Local punk band? Check! (Fucked Up). Over-the-top feats of on-air gluttony? Check! (Bone luge at The Black Hoof, expertly administered by Jen Agg). Still, there’s nothing a Torontonian likes better than to be acknowledged by an outsider—from New York, no less. In this respect, the show was a complete success, with Bourdain delivering his trademark razor-sharp backhanded compliments with relative abandon. Below, a roundup of where the Kitchen Confidential author stopped and, more importantly, what he said about it.

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The Informer

Sports

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Reason to Love Toronto: because the Argos finally gave local fans a hometown victory

(Image: Facebook)

Sports fandom in Toronto is tough. The last time the Blue Jays were World Series champs was two decades ago (though next season should be interesting); for the Maple Leafs, it’s been much, much longer since they took home the cup. Toronto FC had a dismal year, and the Raptors’ record is currently 3–11. Leave it to the Argonauts, the Toronto sports team with the lowest profile, to give the city a much-needed reason to celebrate. The Argos’ 35–22 triumph over the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th Grey Cup—in Toronto, no less—has loyal fans elated, Calgarians humbled and the ranks of local CFL watchers swelling (at least temporarily). Bring on the victory parade.

The Dish

Where to Eat and Drink

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Where to eat and drink near the 2012 Grey Cup

(Image: George Socka)

With 52,000 rabid Argos and Stamps fans crowding the streets around the Rogers Centre on Sunday, you need a game plan for pre- and post-game eating and drinking. Sure, you can pack into Loose Moose or Lone Star Texas Grillbut there are other, better dining options within a 20-minute walk of the dome. Here, your 15 best bets.

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