In search of soccer fans and undergarments

2 05 2009

I’m writing you from the center of the universe, a densely populated metropolis of vast expanses of industry, endless rows of brick and mortar houses and a limitless medley of cultural expression.  I’m talking, of course, about Toronto.   This is the second time I’ve visited big brother, but the first that I’ve been staying downtown and am able to soak in the city’s energy.  That is, if I can find some more underwear!

Perhaps, I should back up a little.  I’ve been sent on a research mission per se, with my colleague Hillary Campbell, Director of Events for the Whitecaps.  We are here to spend time with Toronto FC staff on a topic we are calling ‘fan cultivation’.  As you probably are aware, TFC have done a remarkable job of not only selling out their building since their inception into the MLS, but also creating a stadium atmosphere unlike anything typically seen in North America.   By working with supporter clubs, they’ve made BMO Field an intimidating place and created a local passion for the beautiful game.  No easy task, considering teams such as the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors and Argonauts harbour loyal fanbases themselves.

So we have a week to attend two TFC matches – today against rival Columbus and Wednesday against our very own  Whitecaps.  In addition, we plan to meet with key TFC staff as well as supporter club leaders, pub owners and anyone else willing to offer up some insight.   The goal is to come back to Vancouver with a sense of how we might build a similar atmosphere (or better!) and how we can better work with fans, supporters, etc. If this trip sounds like a dream trip for any Canadian soccer fan, it isn’t without it’s share of calamities – at least for me.  We flew with Air Canada and I was pleasantly surprised at the choices of movies and television shows you can watch on your personal monitor.  However, I foolishly chose Marley and Me despite hearing about it’s proclivity to induce sobbing.  But I love dogs and it seemed far more enjoyable than Frost/Nixon, so I pushed onward.  Hillary, who prepped me with ‘I’ve never cried more in a movie in my life’ was peeking over at me as the movie approached its inevitable conclusion.  Needless to say, it got a little dusty in there during the end, but I managed to keep things in check.  I probably looked like an idiot to the rest of the passengers, but it serves me right.  Note to self – on the way home, go with Frost/Nixon.

Secondly, I completely forgot to do any laundry before my trip.  This means I have a bunch of dress shirts that are about as wrinkled as Henry Kissinger.   Most vital of all, I had hardly any clean underwear to pack and thus I currently am wearing my last pair.  I’m not exactly sure how this story is going to end, but clearly I’m going to have to find something somewhere.  I just hope I’m not stuck buying some tacky TFC boxer shorts!

Other than that, my stay has been great.  My hotel room is very nice and something called Lemongrass Body Butter and Mint Thyme Hair Creme awaited me in the shower.  We are staying in the hotel attached to the Rogers Centre, so we ate dinner overlooking the Blue Jays game last night.  We then ventured off to Wayne Gretzky’s pub, which is also a cool little spot.  Unfortunately, I’m still on westcoast time, so I didn’t fall asleep until 3:30 eastern and am a little groggy today.

But there’s not time to waste!  TFC – Columbus kickoff in 4 hours and we are heading over there to pick up our all-access passes and meet the staff.  I’m so used to ‘working’ at matches, that it will be nice to just wander around as a fan (an ‘all-access’ fan I suppose) and soak it all in.

And, of course, my quest to find underwear looms in the background.  Unless I want to use the hotel’s dry-cleaning service for my only two pair, I better stumble upon a clothing store sometime today.  Wish me luck!

Not the greatest photo, I realize, but my first glimpse of BMO Field.

The Score studio - very very cool

Blue Jays game from our seats in the restaurant. I believe if you look close enough, you can see Alex Rios killing my fantasy team.




One response

2 05 2009
Vicki & Les Hiebert

Is this a sequel to Finding Nemo? Finding Ginch! So, just what was in your suitcase? Beer? lol

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