Rogers Cup Tennis Opening Day Produces Double Fault For Fans
August 6, 2018
Is there any more poorly organized sporting event in Toronto than the Rogers Cup ? It is opening day, the gates have just opened, and I arrive at the paid parking lot and pay $20 to get in. $20 !!!! I mean this is not downtown Toronto folks. Is the concrete really worth that much up at York U. With no other viable parking options I get out of my car and head towards the shuttle bus lineup to take me to the Aviva Centre. Unfortunately the lineup to get on the shuttle is at least six buses deep and their is only one bus being loaded with fans and the process is agonizingly slow. A fan in line asks one of the volunteers how long a walk it is to the stadium and the volunteer says 5-10 minutes if you take the shortcut. "Just follow those people". Decision time: a 5-10 minute walk through the York University campus in excruciating heat through a concrete jungle pathway or a long lineup to get on a yellow school bus with no air-conditioning, squished in like sardines with a bunch of strangers. I chose the walk. Pounding the pavement I trudged along at a frenetic pace but the walk was more like 15 agonizing minutes in the scorching sun. My meniscus was barely still intact when I arrived at the holy grail for tennis fans in Toronto, the Aviva Centre.
However; much to my horror the lineup to get into The Aviva Centre stretched about five to six city blocks and it was not moving an inch. People were budding in line, and there was no real attempt at streamlining the process and making things comfortable or orderly. And did I mention it was excruciatingly hot in line as the area is not covered. In fact there is zero shade until you get to the turnstiles which seemed forever off in the distance. The gates opened at 10 am and I arrived at 11 am and still the lineup was out of control. You would think with individual tickets starting at $20 and VIP tickets starting at $140 maybe they could have offered bottled water to all those standing in line or mini fans, something, anything, but nothing. No entertainment, no music, no buskers, no updates, no direction, nothing. I felt sorry for all the senior citizens and young children who were waiting in line. Once again it was decision time. Should I stay or should I go. The lineup looked like forever. The heat was intolerable. The atmosphere was not festive but rather like a morgue. The answer was easy. I am getting the hell out of here.
In truth it was not an easy decision to leave the line and take an empty shuttle back to the parking lot. As a tennis player and long time suppoter of The Rogers Cup I really wanted to see what was new and exciting on the grounds and watch some world class tennis. However, my decision seems validated by the only other passenger on my shuttle back. This passenger remarked to the driver that she had waited in line for forty minutes and when she finally reached the ticket turnstile she was told she could not enter with her water bottle. God bless her soul, as this fan decided to bring her water bottle back to her car and then return to the ticket turnstile where she was asssured she could go to the front of the line and gain immediate access. I understand about the water bottle rule but it is the 40 minute wait that I am stumped about. This is not the first rodeo for the Rogers Cup. This was opening day. What were the Rogers Cup organizers expecting ? The weather is always excruciatingly hot when this tournament runs in the middle of summer, the lineups are always long.
It is wonderful to see the Rogers Cup rise in popularity. Let's hope tournament organizers are not content to rest on their laurels and will work towards making the fan experience better in the future. They can start by being better prepared for the crowds on opening day. More shuttles from the parking lots to the stadium and a more streamlined process to get fans through the ticket turnstiles would be a good place to start.