In the Toronto sports landscape there are few things that do not fall under the auspice of either Bell or Rogers. The two media giants together own MLSE which owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Marlies and Toronto FC. On its own, Rogers owns the Blue Jays. One of those independent endeavours in Toronto remains the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League. Not totally free of the MLSE touch, the Rock play their home games in the Air Canada Centre which is owned by MLSE. Although not the massive success that they were early in their existence, the Rock have found a comfortable position in the Toronto market and enjoy a healthy following.
After making the move to Toronto from Hamilton, the former Ontario Raiders enjoyed unprecedented success. In their first seven years in Toronto, the Rock won 5 Champion’s Cups as NLL champions. They had a very strong following and took the league by storm. Over time, the fan interest and perhaps more importantly media interest began to fall off. Currently, the Rock lack a true radio partner, receive little newspaper coverage but do have decent television coverage. In 2009, Jamie Dawick purchased the team from former Maple Leafs executive Bill Watters and current Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and invested in the team building a specific lacrosse complex and practice facility. Dawick was rewarded with another Champion’s Cup in 2011.
Over the years of change, the entertainment value of the Toronto Rock product remains. A trip to the Rock is an excellent opportunity for family entertainment at a price that will not kill your pocketbook. If there is one thing that this team knows how to do is Rock the House!
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
A major league venue means major league concessions and Toronto features some of the best. All of the expected items are available at the ACC, at major league prices. (Pizza $5.75; popcorn $6.50; hot dog $5.75; soda $4.75; beer $7.75) There is also a huge variety of other concessions available including burritos, wraps, cheesesteaks, and sandwiches. There are also a few stands that you just have to hit. Smoke's Poutinerie offers the Canadian staple of fries with gravy and cheese curds, with a few interesting glitches like bacon or sausage. Also, Nathan's Dog House offers a huge variety of gourmet hot dogs including the BLT dog, Mac and Cheese Dog and Butter Chicken Dog. You will find Coke products throughout the ACC and Molson Canadian and Coors Light are on tap for beer selections. The biggest issue with concessions at the ACC is that you never really know which stands will be closed due to less than major league attendance.
Possibly one of the most ingenious moves ever made is sports history was the naming of the Toronto lacrosse franchise. In naming the team the Toronto Rock, Bill Watters and his group gave the Rock a plethora of songs that the team could adopt and make part of the team dynamic. Upon a Rock goal you could hear a number of different songs including "Rock You" by Helix "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister and "Can't Stop The Rock" by Apollo 440 among others. This adds to the overall experience and sets an atmosphere that you can't help but enjoy as a sports fan.
The Air Canada Centre is, of course, a major league venue. Like many niche sport tenants, the Rock have some challenges within the venue itself. The MLSE influence throughout the building is massive. From the pictures and advertising in the concourses to the massive number of Toronto Maple Leaf banners in the rafters accompanied by a few Toronto Raptor banners, the ACC does little to remind you that this is also the home of the Toronto Rock. During Toronto Rock games, the banners for the Rock are displayed in the west end of the ACC. These banners include 7 banners honouring the Champion's Cup championship teams of 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2011. There are also banners honouring the retired number 29 of former goaltender Bob "Whipper" Watson and former coach Les Bartley. Both are members of the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame for their contributions to the sport and more specifically their contributions to the Toronto Rock. Unfortunately, when the Rock are not playing, these banners are not seen.
Overall, the Air Canada Centre is a great place to see a game. The venue is arranged in an east-west format and the fairly steep nature of the seating bowl offers great sightlines from just about anywhere. For a Rock game a huge advantage is taking in a game from a seat that you may normally not be able to afford for a Maple Leafs or Raptors game. The NLL offers a product that is a possession game, but rougher and more physical than basketball, and offering far more scoring than hockey. The upbeat classic/hard rock music that plays throughout brings a different excitement to lacrosse that is not found in other sports.
Downtown Toronto is a fantastic place to be. The ACC is located just north of Harbourfront, east of the Rogers Centre and is attached to Union Station. If you are visiting the city, then you will find a plethora of things to do near the ACC.
The CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, and the Hockey Hall of Fame are all great options for tourist ideas. Rogers Centre is close and is good for a tour or another event depending on the time of year. The NLL does end its regular season in April, so there is a distinct possibility between a Rock and Toronto Blue Jays doubleheader.
Toronto has a ton of sporting options very close to the ACC. The Air Canada Centre is also home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. The Rogers Centre is home for the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts. Just west on Lakeshore Blvd. you will find Exhibition Place where you can find Toronto F.C. and the Toronto Marlies. If you are looking for some Canadian University action, then the University of Toronto may be a good stop for you where the Varsity Blues play football, basketball, and hockey. If you are really a historian then a trip to Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens, the former Maple Leaf Gardens, home of the Ryerson Rams hockey and basketball teams may be in order for you.
There are also numerous options for pre or post game meals as well. If you head down Front Street then you will be bombarded with food options, from the usual chains (Lone Star, Baton Rouge, Jack Astors, Canyon Creek) to more original, less common options. Some you may want to give a shot to include The Loose Moose or The Fox, which is on Bay Street. If you get there early enough, then you could choose The Real Sports Bar and Grill, which is located in Maple Leaf Square, right in front of the ACC.
The Rock exploded out of the gate when they first hit the lacrosse scene blowing up attendance records. Over time, the support has plateaued to a healthy support level. Since 2012, the Rock has averaged over 10,000 fans each season. Compared to other teams in the National Lacrosse League, the Rock have ranked either 3rd or 4th in the league in attendance. In the 2015 season the Rock are averaging just over 10,000 fans and rank 4th in attendance. The trend is a slow decrease in attendance for the Rock and a healthy run in the playoffs would help boost their popularity in the trendy sports market of Toronto. The fans that are in attendance are generally knowledgeable about the sport and very supportive of the team. There is much more energy to be found at a Rock game rather than a Maple Leafs game.
Getting to the ACC is usually not significant a problem. However, it is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, between Bay Street and Lakeshore Blvd, so traffic can be an issue. There are fantastic transit options as the ACC is located right by Union Station, so the subway is a great option. There is decent parking around the arena, but you may have to look carefully for it. Downtown Toronto seems to be perpetually under construction so be aware of possible lane closures and impediments to your route. If you are coming from the west by car, don't be fooled by the idea of taking the Gardiner Expressway right to the ACC. Usually the faster route is to take Lakeshore Blvd.
Once inside, the washroom facilities and concourses are more than adequate to support the crowd that is currently frequenting the ACC to see the Rock.
If you play your cards right, then you can catch a heck of a deal to see the Toronto Rock. There are almost always ticket promotions where you can buy a 4-pack of tickets in the lower bowl for far cheaper than the $40 regular price. There are huge discounts for youth ($24 for the same lower bowl ticket). If you are looking for the cheapest ticket available then you are looking at the upper deck for around $20. Admittedly, the concession prices are a bit on the high side due to the NHL/NBA run arena. Parking can be had for around $15-$20, which is pretty average for Toronto. Overall, a trip to see the Toronto Rock will leave you with the feeling that you have received your money's worth, and if the opportunity arises, you will most definitely want to experience it again.
An extra mark for the NLL players, who are all "real people" with "real jobs." The vast majority of players for the Toronto Rock and other teams in the NLL have 9 to 5 jobs in their hometowns and they moonlight as lacrosse players on the weekends.
An extra mark for over 15 years of NLL lacrosse in Toronto and the phenomenal success that the Rock have found on the floor.
An extra mark for one of the best names in all of sport.
Lacrosse is known as the fastest sport on two-feet. The Toronto Rock have been tremendously successful on the floor and at the turnstiles. In the crowded Toronto sports landscape, the Rock have found a nice niche and provide their fans with great family entertainment for an affordable price. A visit to Toronto would be even better if you got a chance to Rock the House!
The national sport of Canada is...Lacrosse! Many believe that hockey is the national sport in the land of the Maple Leaf, but it is really the fastest sport on two feet. For those of you new to lacrosse it is something you want to check out. There are two varieties; indoor and outdoor. Indoor or box lacrosse is played within the confines of a standard hockey arena. The gameplay is a fantastic melding of the structure and roughness of hockey, with the possession game found in basketball.
The Toronto Rock joined the National Lacrosse League in 1999 moving from Hamilton. Since that time the Rock have been a jewel of the league, leading in attendance and winning 5 Champion's Cups including 4 in their first 5 years. Their entry into Toronto was marketed brilliantly. They hold the distinction of having been the final event at historic Maple Leaf Gardens. Since their last championship in 2005, much has changed for the Rock but the winning ways have returned. This review takes place during the final game of the 2011 season in which the Toronto Rock defeated the Washington Stealth to win their 6th Champion's Cup.
In 1999 the National Lacrosse League (NLL) debuted in Toronto. It was an instant hit. The Toronto Rock took the entire lacrosse community by storm. The fastest game on two feet caught the interest of Canada's largest city and it was the beginning of the golden age for the NLL. Four Champion's Cups in their first five years, as well as new attendance records put the Rock firmly at the top of the NLL hierarchy. Now, in their 15th season in Toronto, interest in the Rock has tapered off and the trendy nature of the city of Toronto has once again reared its ugly head. Currently owned by the mysterious Jamie Dawick, the Rock remain one of the central franchises in the nine-team league, and now claim six Champion's Cups as part of their legacy.
The Rock call the Air Canada Centre home; a venue they share with the Maple Leafs and Raptors. Attendance has fallen over the years, but the Rock are still a great outing and some great family fun for a good price.
The Rock have done a wonderful job with keeping Lacrosse alive and well in Toronto and the fans have a lot to do with it. went to a game a few years ago, knowing not much about box lacrosse and fell in love with it. Will go back whenever I get a chance.
146 Front Street West
Toronto, ON M5J 1G2
15 York St
Toronto, ON M5J 0A3
144 Front Street West
Toronto, ON M5J 2L7
151 Front Street West
Toronto, ON M5J 2N1
123 Front Street West
Toronto, ON M5A 4R6
30 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M5E 1X8
301 Front Street W
Toronto, ON M5V 2T6
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