Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Feast of Sport; Sports-Mad LEE RYDER Finds There's Plenty to See and Do in Toronto

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Feast of Sport; Sports-Mad LEE RYDER Finds There's Plenty to See and Do in Toronto

Article excerpt

FOR most Newcastle United fans, the current season feels like it has been going on forever.

Therefore, when the opportunity arose to get away from the season from Hell, I jumped at the opportunity for a trip to a city that boasts the chance to watch three different sports in just 48 hours.

Many would deem this an overdose for yours truly, but the chance to see what the sporting world has to offer across the pond in Toronto sounded unmissable.

Toronto, like New York, is a skyscraper city and is the largest in Canada.

Unlike the Big Apple, there is a much more laid-back vibe, but there is nothing laid-back about the Torontonian approach to sports and in a whirlwind weekend I was about to experience as much baseball, basketball and ice hockey that Canada could throw at me.

Our residence could only described as a sports fans dream in the plush surroundings of the Renaissance Hotel.

This spectacular building backs on to the Rogers Centre - home of the baseball big boys Toronto Blue Jays and, of course, the Canadian national team. It's also just down the road from the main venue that hosts basketball and ice hockey.

My stay at the Renaissance actually coincided with Toronto hosting the World Baseball Classic, but more on that later.

The weekend kicked off with dinner in the CN Tower, which at 553 metres high is the second biggest building in the world. The next stop was the Air Canada Centre.

As a guest of the city, I had to play the role of an adopted Canadian with the first sporting activity of the weekend coming on the basketball court.

It was Friday night amidst the spectacle of a 19,800 sellout crowd, the cheerleaders and the fans were ready and it was all about to tip off.

And despite being thousands of miles from the Toon, there were similarities to Tyneside already.

With Newcastle struggling in the Premier League, unfortunately the city's NBA team, the Raptors, were also enduring a season of struggle.

After four pulsating quarters of action between Miami Heat and the Raptors, they went down 108-102 leaving their play-off dream in tatters. Still, at least I could relate to such failures with the long-suffering fans.

Nevertheless, I started to wonder if it was me who seemed to be jinxing any team I watched.

After consoling myself with a walk along Yonge Street to see the bright, neon lights that rival even those of Times Square in New York, it dawned upon me that this one of the best bustling cities in the world.

Yet Saturday was described to me as the highlight of my sporting package and it doesn't come much bigger than a World Baseball Classic Series clash between Canada and the US.

Indeed, if I thought that the rocking atmosphere of the basketball the night before was something to savour, it was bettered in front of a 41,000 crowd at the Rogers Centre for a clash of the titans. …

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