It’s an “aha” moment I’ll never forget. It was February about 10 years ago and I was in the large sunny plaza outside the hockey rink in Tampa Florida. I was visiting a friend who lives in Florida, and the Toronto Maple Leafs were in town to play that night.

It was still hours before game time, and we saw a very happy family of four – a husband, wife and their two daughters – walking the plaza in Maple Leaf jerseys. We asked them where they were from and they said Thunder Bay. It sounded like a long hike to come for a game, but they said it was way cheaper than flying into Toronto and getting tickets for a home game.

The cost of four “cheap seat” tickets in Tampa at that time? US $11 each from the box office (they couldn’t even get Leaf tickets in Toronto from the box office). They had to fly anyway to see the game in Toronto, so the extra cost to Florida was just $150 per person. It all made perfect sense.

Escape the big city madness

If you live in the Toronto area like I do, you gain the benefit of everything a big city has to offer, but you bear the burden of a rabid sports culture that makes it difficult and expensive to see games. That’s why I love seeing my team (the Leafs) play away games in less-rabid sports towns with lots of availability.

Three reasons make it hard to resist:

  1. You see another city: A couple of nights in a new city makes the experience that much richer, and since most cities are south of Toronto, you’ll likely enjoy some nicer weather as well.
  2. You meet people: If you wear your Toronto jersey, you’ll not only meet other Toronto fans, you’ll also meet home-team-supporting locals looking to razz you into some friendly competition.
  3. Cost: I checked on StubHub, and the cost of a 3rd row, centre ice seat to the Leaf game against Florida in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday Dec 15, 2018 was US$235. The best you could get for the following Saturday night in Toronto was the 11th row for US$616. That savings of nearly US$800 on a pair of tickets goes a long way towards covering the cost of flights and hotels. It might not be cheaper in the end, but it’s close enough and comes with a 26 degree Celsius daytime high.

Looking for a gift idea? Take a look at your Leaf or Raptor away game schedule in 2019 and plan a short trip south. Once you get hooked, you’ll never see a home game again.



Thanks for reading!
Ian Hull