A Visit to the Stadium of the Competition

After a weekend of sports with my son in Chicago I’m excited for this week’s Sports Wednesday post. While in Chicago, Matthew and I knew that we supported the “other” team. We are used to supporting the home team, like the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre or Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. For Matthew, it was a new experience to be in the minority, wearing a jersey with the logo from the competition.

I have been fortunate to visit a number of ballparks in various North American cities over the years, but for Mathew this was a new experience. No doubt there is something exciting about walking into your own team’s stadium, surrounded by like-minded people. But I will always remember Matthew’s face when he entered Wrigley Field, the stadium of the competition, dressed in his Blue Jays jersey and cap.

The Cubs fans were welcoming and friendly. Matthew was warmly greeted at every turn, and an usher even handed him a Chicago Cubs sticker. People smiled at us as we walked to our seats and graciously stood up to let us into our row when we found our section.

I love to hear Oh Canada at sports events. Matthew and I sang along, as did the thousands of other Blue Jays fans in the stands. Everyone cheered as the anthem came to a crescendo and kept on cheering as the Star Spangled Banner began.

 

Blue Jays fans cheered loudly for our team, the competition, and Cubs fans of course cheered louder for their team. But everyone was in good spirits around us, Blue Jays and Cubs fans alike.  I don’t think this is the case in all ballparks, but wow the fans at Wrigley are something special.

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At the Jays versus Cubs game
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Matthew dressed in his clothing of the competition at Wrigley

Matthew and I also made the long trek to Toyota Park where the Major League Soccer (MLS) club, the Chicago Fire, play. By coincidence, our home team, the Toronto FC, were also in town, and we had to go to this game too.

I will admit that until Saturday I had never been to even one MLS game. While I know quite a bit about soccer in general, my knowledge of the MLS was limited. One thing I learned quickly is that soccer fans are dedicated and very serious. Their loyalty to their team is strong, and they are not as easygoing and welcoming as baseball fans.

The ushers at Toyota Park again were as nice as can be, but I have to say that with our bright red Toronto FC shirts on, the Chicago Fire fans were less than friendly. They barely glanced at us and clearly were not interested in cavorting with the “enemy.” You see, Toronto FC is in first place, in the Eastern Conference, and the Chicago Fire are in third. There is a clear rivalry between these two teams, and no one wanted to cozy up with us, who represented the competition.

Matthew and I excitedly cheered on our team when they scored the first goal of the game and went ahead 3-1 in the dying minutes. But we were clearly in the minority. The stadium exploded with cheers when the Fire scored the team’s only goal, but clearly fans were not pleased that at the end of the day their team was beaten yet again by our team.

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A view of the FC versus Fire game from our amazing seats

When the weekend was over and we waited at the gate for our flight home, Matthew’s excitement peaked again when he realized the entire Toronto FC team was seated beside us. He could barely contain his enthusiasm when he pointed out his favourite player, #17, Jozy Altidor. The shameless mother that I am, I asked for a photo with this great athlete and my son. Mr. Altidor kindly obliged.

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Matthew was so excited to meet Jozy Altidor
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Matthew was just too excited to be near the whole Toronto FC team

Our weekend of sports is over, and now Matthew and I are scheming about where our sports destination will be next year.  Our goal, over the coming years, is to visit every ballpark in North America together. He wants to go to Fenway park in Boston to see the Red Sox. I’m considering that, as well as a ballpark or two closer to home such as Detroit or Cleveland. Where do you think we should go next? Post a comment here, share with me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

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