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Varsity Arena

Toronto, ON

Home of the Toronto Varsity Blues Hockey

2.9

N/A

Varsity Arena (map it)
299 Bloor St W
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6
Canada


Toronto Varsity Blues Hockey website

Varsity Arena website

Year Opened: 1926

Capacity: 4,116

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Smell of History

Established in 1827, the University of Toronto is one of the oldest universities in Canada. It was founded 40 years before Canada was even a country. The Varsity Blues hockey team was established in 1891 and have a long and illustrious history in Toronto. The coaching ranks alone feature legendary names including Ace Bailey, Conn Smythe, Mike Keenan, Tom Watt and Lester B. Pearson, who would later go on to be the 14th Prime Minister of Canada.

The Varsity Blues play in legendary Varsity Arena, which is part of the University of Toronto Varsity Centre complex. It is adjacent to the football field and shares an address with the Toronto Varsity Blues football team.

Upon entering Varsity Arena, you are immediately brought back to a time and place of youth hockey in arenas that now seemed to be closed. A trip to Varsity is a trip back in time, where history has a certain smell to it.

2.9

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    1

Varsity Arena has the absolute simplest concession menu that I've ever seen. You are only going to find soda, coffee, hot chocolate, chips and chocolate bars here. The concessions at Varsity are literally like the snack bar that you would find at a local youth hockey arena. On the positive side, the prices are all less than you might expect, but don't go to the game looking to fill up. The surrounding area more than makes up for a lack of concession options.

Atmosphere    4

Varsity Arena smells like history.

It has been used since 1926, and has pieces that salute that era. The seating bowl provides great sightlines all around. The seats are the classic double, wooden seat that is very rare around hockey arenas.

Above the ice surface, the Varsity Blues do a great job of intimidating their opponents with the sheer volume of championship nods. The Varsity Blues claim two Allan Cups, 10 University Cup National Championships, an unreal 41 Queen's Cups as conference champions, and even a banner honouring the 1928 Olympic Gold Medal team. That doesn't even mention the numerous championships that the women's hockey team has brought home.

There is something about Varsity Arena that you just can't put your finger on that brings you back to your youth hockey days. It could be the acoustics that force you to really listen for the public address announcer to make out goal announcements. It could be that smell of wood. It could be the maze of steel girders that make up the roof. Either way it's great. The Blues could do a better job showcasing the vast history that the team has, including some of their legendary coaches.

Neighborhood    5

The lack of concessions is not that much of a problem as Varsity Arena is located in a fantastic neighbourhood in Toronto. Right beside the Varsity Centre is the Royal Ontario Museum. It is a fantastic tourist sight that should be taken in if you are in the area.

Being in the heart of the University of Toronto campus, there are tons of places to grab a bite before or after the game. Some places you may consider trying include: the Museum Tavern, Over Easy, the Roof Lounge, the Duke of York or the Bedford Academy.

Fans    1

Unfortunately attendance at university hockey is usually measured in the hundreds rather than thousands. You can choose just about any seat you want at a Varsity Blues game. Like many other Canadian university events, the students need to be captured and invested to improve on this aspect of the atmosphere. The game is very low-key and enjoyable, but don't expect a big crowd reaction.

Access    3

You can get to the University of Toronto by car and find a surface lot and pay for parking, but you are probably better off taking the TTC subway. Varsity Centre is located a half block from the Museum stop on the subway and very close to the St. George station.

Getting into Varsity Arena is a little confusing as to get into the arena, you must go through the football stadium. Inside, finding washrooms can be difficult, and it seems there is only one for each gender.

Return on Investment    4

Varsity Blues hockey is very affordable. Purchasing a ticket online will cost you a mere $10 and add a couple bucks if you are going to buy at the box office. The kids are free and students and seniors get a discount. Combine that with cheap concessions and you have a formula that ends up with a enjoyable evening of hockey for a great price.

Extras    2

An extra point for the tremendous success that the Varsity Blues have enjoyed over the years including stretches of 11 and 8 Queen's Cups in a row!

An extra point for being able to hang an Olympic Gold Medal banner in your building.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for new and shiny, Varsity Arena is not where you want to be. If you are looking to travel into a previous era, then the Toronto Varsity Blues are for you. It's been said numerous times but, they just don't make them like this anymore.

Follow all of Dave Cottenie's journeys on twitter @profan9.

Varsity's Historic Hockey Home

Varsity Arena is cozily tucked under the stands of the modern Varsity Stadium and benefits from a new entrance off the concourse of the latter. Still, from Philosopher's Walk through UofT's campus you can see the beautiful architecture of one of hockey's cathedrals. So much history has happened on this ice pad, and the Varsity Blues have been one of the most celebrated sides in all of hockey. The experience is elevated when Downtown Showdown rivals Ryerson come to play. The same is even more true for Red & Blue Challenge rivals York. The arena oozes history and Varsity display it proudly. The most interesting banner commemorates the 1928 Olympic champion team that played under the arched roof here. The Blues still ice competitive teams year after year and Varsity Arena is a fun place to get a sense of hockey history while enjoying a trip to Toronto.

by RobbieRaskin | Feb 11, 2014 01:11 AM

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Local Food & Drink

Museum Tavern  (map it!)

208 Bloor W

Toronto, ON M5S 3B4

(416) 920-0110

http://www.museumtavern.ca/

Over Easy Restaurant  (map it!)

208 Bloor St. West

Toronto, ON M5S 3B4

(416) 922-2345

http://www.overeasyrestaurants.com/

The Duke of York   (map it!)

39 Prince Arthur Ave

Toronto, ON M5R 1B2

(416) 964-2441

http://york.thedukepubs.ca/index-home.php

Bedford Academy  (map it!)

36 Prince Arthur Ave

Toronto, ON M5R 2J9

(416) 921-4600

http://www.thebedfordacademy.com/

Local Entertainment

Royal Ontario Museum  (map it!)

100 Queens Park

Toronto, ON M5S 2C6

(416) 586-8000

http://www.rom.on.ca/

Lodging

Park Hyatt Toronto  (map it!)

4 Avenue Rd

Toronto, ON M5S 2C7

(416) 925-1234

http://parktoronto.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels-parktoronto/

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