Planning a tournament for your Toronto-based sports team, or an away tournament to The Big Smoke? From where to play games to how to get your opponents into the city, here’s all you need to know about planning that big tournament.
Toronto Sports Venues
Toronto is known as a hockey town. After all, it is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the NHL’s Maple Leafs, and the AHL’s Marlies — but the 6ix has outgrown that label in recent years. Deep playoff runs by MLB’s Blue Jays and last year’s championship won by the NBA’s Raptors cemented T-Dot’s reputation as a multi-sport city. That’s true below the professional ranks too. Participation statistics among Canadian youth show that sports like basketball and soccer have made up ground on hockey over the last five years, and nowhere is that more true than the country’s largest city.
The city’s sporting venues reflect this change: There are as many quality football and soccer fields and basketball courts around town as hockey rinks. For inspiration: The aforementioned pro teams host their games out of some truly stellar venues. Downtown Scotiabank Arena is shared by hockey’s Leafs and basketball’s Raptors throughout the winter. The Rogers Centre hosts Blue Jays home games rain or shine thanks to its retractable roof, and provides a spectacular view of the iconic CN Tower.
But unless you’re buying tickets, chances are you won’t be able to afford to get your team into those big league venues. Here, we’ll guide you through the arenas, courts, and fields you should know about when planning your Toronto tournament.
Toronto Hockey Arenas
Toronto has a remarkable selection of rinks to choose from, sprawling across the city and its many suburbs. Multi-rink venues make it easy to run your tournament out of one location, and Canlan Ice Sports on York University’s campus has no less than six sheets. Just north of the city, in Vaughan, The Sports Village has four surfaces plus a pub for the parents and a video game center for the siblings. Finally, the state-of-the-art Ford Performance Centre is the official practice facility for both the Maple Leafs and Marlies, and it has four rinks available for rent.
Toronto Indoor Sports Venues
In North York’s Downsview Park lies one of the country’s best basketball facilities: HoopDome, a 42,000 square foot gymnasium with four regulation courts and three smaller half courts. Ryerson University’s campus gym has only one hardcourt, but the home of the Rams seats 1,000 people for big games.
Toronto Outdoor Sports Venues
Any tournament would be well-suited for Christie Pits Park, which has three baseball diamonds and a field that can be used for soccer, rugby, or football. The Varsity Centre on the University of Toronto campus has a 5,000 seat artificial turf field for soccer and football.
The best sports tournaments bring together teams from far and wide, which makes transportation a crucial element for participating teams. As the host team, you can welcome your competition by helping the incoming clubs plan their trips into your city.
The first thing each away team will want to do is take equipment inventory to decide how many buses they’ll need to book. How much gear teams travel with will impact their bus selection, especially when it comes to storage space.
Point the opposing coaches or team managers toward our Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus Type — it’s the easiest way to make the decision. The guide asks all the right questions and shows off important features for each of our bus options.
Pro tip: if you are coaching a small team this year, you may want to opt for renting a sprinter van instead of an entire bus. Bus.com offers sprinter van rentals in Toronto that can fit up to 15 passengers and even be driven by a member of your team.
The next step is to reserve a bus. Sports teams often favour the coach bus, an attractive option due to its size (capacity up to 55), comfortable seating, air conditioning, bathroom, and spacious undercarriage storage for all the team’s equipment and luggage. Smaller teams that carry gear might prefer the mini coach over a full-sized coach bus, which has all the comfortable amenities of the regular coach along with storage. Teams travelling shorter distances or simply trying to lower their per player price should consider renting a school bus or a mini bus.
Want to offer more advice to your fellow coaches? Explain to them the importance of creating an attendance list to use each and every time their team boards and debarks the bus. Safety is the most crucial aspect in play here, and keeping track of all your players starts with this list. To liven things up on the bus, suggest onboard entertainment like music, movies, or sports podcasts.
A question you’ll no doubt be asked is this: How can I pay for my bus rental? Be sure to let them know about the 3 easy ways to finance a bus rental with Bus.com, as well as our convenient book now pay later option that makes it easy for teams to plan ahead and pay when they’re ready.
Finally, depending on your sport, make sure to check out one of these resources before booking transportation:
- Hockey Coach’s Checklist to Planning The Ultimate Away Games
- Basketball Coach’s Checklist to Planning the Ultimate Away Game
- Football Coach’s Checklist to Planning The Ultimate Away Games
Teams coming in from outside Toronto will need to book rooms in a hotel for their players, coaches, and maybe even parents. As a local, you can help them navigate the different neighbourhoods around town and suggest hotels that are close to the rink, court, or field. But you may not know exactly which hotels are best suited for sports teams — and that’s where we come in.
We know that the Holiday Inn Express is renowned for hosting sports teams and is equipped with a Parents’ Lounge which is super convenient for younger-aged teams where the parents are along for the ride. We also know that Best Western provides free wifi, complimentary breakfast, and large rooms large with space to store equipment. Both chains tend to be generous with team discounts or sponsorships — all you have to do is ask.
Pro tip: Book a courtesy hotel room block. A block is essential for any sports team travelling together, as it ensures that your whole group has rooms next to one another.