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Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport

Toronto, ON

Home of the Toronto Varsity Blues

4.3

4.3

Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport (map it)
100 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON M5S 2C9
Canada


Toronto Varsity Blues website

Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport website

Year Opened: 2014

Capacity: 2,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Gold Standard of Canadian University Basketball

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues have an unmatched track record of athletic success in the country. With more championships than any other university in Canada, students can be as proud of their athletic reputation as they are of their academic. And students certainly are proud of the new home for basketball and volleyball, Goldring Centre, a facility that is beyond comparison to almost any other facility in the province and in the country for university sport. Only Université Laval, a Québec school that places an unusual (for Canada) emphasis on athletics has a venue that comes close.

Built for the 2015 Pan American Games, the university split the cost with the provincial government and neither side skimped. Features are state of the art and attending a Blues match here feels like a scaled down professional event as opposed to the standard slightly larger high school feeling event that most other universities have.

The Goldring Centre is a hub for high performance athletics on campus and contains an extensive gym and fitness studios with a view over Varsity Stadium, a sport medicine clinic, athletic offices, and training facilities for varsity athletes. The actual hall for live sporting events is known as Kimel Family Field House and is the subject of the review.

4.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Choices here are what could be expected from a venue of this size. Pizza delivered from national chain Pizza Pizza is the primary hot food choice and popcorn, snacks, and a couple choices of pop are available at very reasonable prices. A slice of pizza is $2.50, which is very reasonable. Unlike at Varsity Stadium, there is no alcohol available here, but there are deals to be had at the Duke of York Pub nearby post match.

Atmosphere    5

Upon approaching Goldring Centre, one is immediately taken by the imposing glass and steel building, sharply designed with a neat glass overhang where the gym is visible to the street. At night, the glass wall is lit up in blue and there are often searchlights in front of the entrance to beckon you in. The ticket window fronts Devonshire Place and is next to the main entrance doors. There is a concourse with a help desk and turnstiles. After going through, you are presented with a high view of the Field House from bar rail seats along the windows.

Down another level and it is the mezzanine with its VIP seating ring above the court level. Down another grand staircase and there is a lower atrium with booths selling merchandise, charity items, programmes, noisemakers, and other accoutrements as well as the concession. Above the atrium hang banners displaying all the championships, provincial and national, of all the teams - certainly an impressive sight.

Stepping into the Field House itself, the air of professionalism is increased tenfold as the beautiful hardwood is surrounded by the full square of bleachers. The stands can be retracted and for most games there are two sides and two ends unfolded with the corner stands retracted. The ceiling soars high above, a dark black ringed by windows at ground level. As tipoff approaches, blinds roll down over the windows and your attention is drawn to the two crystal clear, professional class LED displays.

At the far end from the entrance is a rectangular board used for showing replays as well as the score and other information. Above the entrance and along the mezzanine is another LED ribbon display with detailed match information.

The seats are plastic but quite comfortable and the pregame and halftime displays are as professional as one would expect based on everything else at Goldring Centre, and the announcer is very passionate and has an excellent voice for introducing players. All in all, the new place is a massive step up from the older, simple gymnasium that used to host the Blues basketball teams.

Neighborhood    5

Goldring Centre is perfectly situated on campus and in downtown Toronto. Located right next to Varsity Stadium and Varsity Arena, Goldring Centre consolidates most teams at the north end of the main St. George campus. The three athletic venues are situated along Bloor Street, right in between the posh Yorkville neighbourhood and the very popular Annex student quarter. Steps to the east are the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Ceramic Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the expensive shopping and fine dining of Yorkville. Steps to the west are the Bata Shoe Museum, and the cheap pubs, restaurants, and bookstores of the Annex. About fifteen minutes' walk west to the end of the Annex strip is the massive and iconic Toronto bargain store Honest Ed's, certainly worth visiting for the tourist. Head south and onto campus where the historical and modern architecture and sprawling green spaces will keep anyone enthralled. Queen's Park is Ontario's provincial legislature and is located at the southeast corner of campus. Tours are offered and quite interesting but it is a fascinating building to walk through on your own as well.

There are more pubs and restaurants in the area than could possibly be named but the Duke of York, one block up Bedford Rd at Prince Arthur Ave is not cheap but they do have specials after Blues games. The atmosphere is charming and full of students and alumni, and there is a delightful patio out back in summer. To really feel like a student, head into the Annex for your pre or postmatch pints at Madison Avenue Pub (just ask a student how to get to 'the Maddy'). This is a good spot to also catch the hockey game on one of the TVs but it can become crazy on Thursday nights. Again, a great option when its warm out with an incredible rooftop patio and decently priced house pints.

Food options are equally plentiful. If it is cold out, try the Canadian favourite, poutine. Almost everyone serves a playful variation on it now but the best selection is at Smoke's, ten minutes west into the Annex. Museum Tavern is just east on Bloor and has an intriguing menu with a long cocktail list. Or head south into the architecturally stunning campus and try Sammy's in Hart House. It is a central gathering spot and student pub and features live entertainment many nights of the week as well as very good chicken shawarma at student friendly pricing.

There are numerous hotels right nearby. The official hotel is the Marriott Yorkville, ten minutes east at Yonge and Bloor. The Intercontinental is right across the street from Varsity Stadium. Two minutes away are also the Holiday Inn and Hyatt hotels.

Fans    4

Canadian university sport is nothing like college sports in the US and anyone visiting from south of the border should not expect tens of thousands of spectators. Still, the beautiful arena has brought U of T students out in decent numbers and there are often close to 1,000 fans at the game for either mens' or women's basketball, a very good attendance. The atmosphere is relaxed rather than boisterous but fans do make noise at the right times and are knowledgeable of the game and proud of their school. The 'Varsity Ultras' supporters group do occasionally make appearances at games and bring along their banners and songs to enliven the crowd.

Access    5

No complaints here. Getting to the game by public transit is easy as can be, with the important interchange subway station St. George immediately north of the arena. You can reach this station on the north-south or east-west main lines into and out of downtown Toronto. There is plenty of bike parking in front and although there is a Green P public car park just north, driving in Toronto, especially in winter, is difficult and not recommended.

The concourses are more than wide enough to fit everyone and washrooms, located another floor below the Field House, are large, clean, and modern.

Return on Investment    5

It is always cheap to attend a university sporting event in Canada but it is not every time that fans get the professional experience like they do here. Regular ticket prices are $10 online or $12 at the gate. Youth and seniors pay $5 and $7 respectively and students and faculty go free. Apparel is priced slightly cheaper than at the bookstore and would make an excellent souvenir.

Extras    3

Extra point for the attention to detail throughout the arena. The entire experience provides the feeling of no expense at all spared and you are left with a positive feeling the whole time.

Extra point for the playing of mens' and women's games one after the other so that for the price of one ticket, you can watch two games.

An extra point is deserved for the long and storied history of sport at U of T, with more championships than any other university.

Final Thoughts

There are many sporting options in the city of Toronto but few can provide the combination of value and professionalism that are on display at Goldring Centre. A cheap and entertaining evening of Varsity Blues basketball or volleyball is an excellent idea for the fan and this amazing new arena will not leave anyone disappointed.

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Crowd Reviews

The Creme de la Creme of Canadian University Basketball

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues have an unmatched track record of athletic success in the country. With more championships than any other university in Canada, students can be as proud of their athletic reputation as they are of their academic. And students certainly are proud of the new home for basketball and volleyball, Goldring Centre, a facility that is beyond comparison to almost any other facility in the province and in the country for university sport. Only Université Laval, a Québec school that places an unusual (for Canada) emphasis on athletics has a venue that comes close.

Built for the 2015 Pan American Games, the university split the cost with the provincial government and neither side skimped. Features are state of the art and attending a Blues match here feels like a scaled-down professional event as opposed to the standard slightly-larger high school-feeling event that most other universities have.

The Goldring Centre is a hub for high-performance athletics on campus and contains an extensive gym and fitness studios with a view over Varsity Stadium, a sport medicine clinic, athletic offices, and training facilities for varsity athletes. The actual hall for live sporting events is known as Kimel Family Field House and is the subject of the review.

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