Itinerant Fan

Scotiabank Arena

It stands to reason that Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, home of the Maple Leafs and Raptors, is one of the more important buildings in the North American pro sports landscape.

Here’s why: Toronto is considered the epicenter of professional hockey in North America, and it’s a well-deserved title. After all, the Hockey Hall of Fame is located there and the NHL has offices in the city (remember that whenever there’s a video review in an NHL game these days, it’s said that “Toronto is looking at it”). And, of course, the Maple Leafs are one of the league’s Original Six franchises.

With the presence of the Raptors, you can also say that Toronto is the epicenter of Canadian professional sports, since the Raptors are currently Canada’s only NBA franchise (the same is true of the Blue Jays and MLB). So with all that said, Scotiabank Arena is more than a worthy venue to visit.

And Toronto’s sports cred was on full display during the Raptors’ run to the 2019 NBA championship, with the streets and the “Jurassic Park” plaza overflowing with fans on playoff game nights.

Beyond that, though, Scotiabank Arena is an anchor building in one of the more fascinating cities to visit in North America, if not the whole world. It’s smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto, right in the shadow of the CN Tower and on top of the always-busy Union Station. It often hosts major international events, such as the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. 

Really, with all those qualities to it, it’s tough to turn down an opportunity to visit Scotiabank Arena. Here’s a guide to making the most of the experience.

For more on visiting Toronto, check out our Toronto sports travel guide.

The approach: Getting to Scotiabank Arena

Because of its downtown location, Scotiabank Arena (which moved on from its longtime name, Air Canada Centre, in 2018) is easy to access for any visitor to the city — and for many residents as well, thanks to numerous high-rise apartment buildings nearby and sprinkled throughout the central city. 

Walking is fairly simple thanks to Toronto’s street grid pattern. Look for either Yonge (pronounced young) Street, which runs north-south, or Front Street, which runs east-west — both are major streets which meet about two blocks away from the arena, right where the Hockey Hall of Fame is located. From there, find signs for the arena, or failing that, for Union Station — if you’re on the north side of the station, you just have to pass through it to get to the venue on the other side.

Even if you find yourself in the throes of a harsh Canadian winter, Toronto has you covered. Use the city’s PATH walkway system to keep yourself underground and, more importantly, sheltered as you make your way down to the arena.

Toronto’s subway system is fairly simple to use for tourists and has a stop at Union Station, at the bottom of the “U” on the Yonge-University line, aka Line 1. Union Station is also a major stop for a number of regional train lines that can be used to reach the game from the city’s outskirts and beyond.

If you must drive, there are numerous parking garages and lots within easy walking distance of the arena.

Center map
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The build-up: Things to do around Scotiabank Arena

Unsurprisingly, the blocks surrounding the arena are dotted with restaurants, bars and restaurant-slash-bars that will happily cater to the sports fan. In general, the closer to the arena the establishment is, the more crowded it will be prior to the game (and, likely, the pricier it will be as well). But even up to several blocks away, you can find good eating and drinking spots. Restaurant guides can be found here and here.

If it’s your first time visiting Toronto, be sure to budget some time to see some of the sights near the arena. The CN Tower is just two blocks away, for example — while tickets to ascend the tower can be pricey depending on your budget, the views you can get from the observation deck are worth the trip. 

Of course, if you’re in town to see hockey, you MUST go visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, where you’re sure to see something pertaining to your favorite team. At the very least, go to get your photo taken with the Stanley Cup, a copy of which is usually on display during museum opening hours.

Don’t forget to check out another piece of Toronto hockey history about a mile away, at the corner of Church and Carlton streets. The Maple Leafs’ former home, Maple Leaf Gardens, still stands and now holds athletic facilities for a local university as well as a grocery store. Check out our Venues Past post on Maple Leaf Gardens for more info.

Scotiabank Arena Toronto Maple Leafs Raptors

The ambiance: Watching a game at Scotiabank Arena

Despite the history of the Maple Leafs and the downtown location, Scotiabank Arena is really a run-of-the-mill arena in terms of layout and features. However, steps have been taken to improve the fan experience in recent years, and there’s plenty worth exploring.

First, it’s hard NOT to find something good to eat or drink at the arena. Many Canadian standards are there, such as Tim Hortons, Mr. Sub and Pizza Pizza — all three have stands in one food court on the 100-level concourse. In addition, you can find items such as poutine, shwarma and grilled cheese sandwiches. Check out your options in this concessions guide.

Press Pass Collectibles

There’s also a brewpub, called the Real Sports Bar & Grill, within the arena, and another beer garden called the Draught Deck in between the 100 and 300 levels. In fact, if you’re ascending between the two main seating bowls, you must pass through the Draught Deck in order to get from escalator to escalator. Just try to resist stopping and getting a cold one while you’re there.

The arena seating bowl is pretty standard as arenas go, with the exception of the ends, where several levels of suites are stacked on top of each other in place of what would normally be the cheap seats.

The lower rows of the 300 level don’t feel high up at all, so if you can stomach what would likely be high prices for a Maple Leafs game, splurge if you can. Be mindful, though, that some spots close to the suite areas at each end could come with obstructed views.

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    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Toronto Maple Leafs
    Toronto Raptors

    40 Bay St.
    Toronto, ON M5J 2X2

    Year Opened

    18,819 (hockey)
    19,300 (basketball)

    Upcoming Events
    All times local
    Roger Waters
    Friday, July 17, 2020
    3:30 am
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    Roger Waters
    Saturday, July 18, 2020
    3:30 am
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    Aventura with Romeo Santos
    Sunday, July 19, 2020
    8:00 pm
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    Dude Perfect - Toronto
    Tuesday, July 21, 2020
    7:00 pm
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    The Killers with Johnny Marr
    Friday, September 25, 2020
    7:30 pm
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    View Seating Chart »