Rogers Cup (Toronto)

Tournament Level: ATP 1000/WTA Premier 5
Dates Attended: 10+ times each over the past 12 years
Seats: Everywhere in the stadium except the bleachers

Rogers Cup – The Tennis Fan Experience

Full disclaimer: This is our hometown tournament (at least the Toronto half of the split Toronto/Montreal format – we’ve never gone to the tournament in Montreal).  The Toronto Rogers Cup is the one tournament we attend at least once every year, often twice.  We have attended for early rounds and late rounds, and even a couple of finals.  We have sat everywhere in the stadium (except the bleacher seats).  There are many things the Rogers Cup does very well, although also a few areas where it could be better, but it’s always a fun time.

rogers cup tennis
Cibulkova vs. Na, Rogers Cup, August 2014

For anyone not familiar with the Rogers Cup, the ATP and WTA alternate between the Toronto and Montreal sites each year, with one at each site.  This makes the tournament unique, in that you are essentially going to see either an ATP or a WTA tournament, although there is significant coordination between the sites.  Each year the feel is a bit different, depending which tour is in town.  As a local fan, you have the benefit of being able to see both men and the women over time rather than just one or the other.

Being the first major warm-up tournament for the US Open after Wimbledon, the Rogers Cup attracts all of the top players meaning the quality is always high. We usually attend at least one session out of the quarter- or semi-finals.  Often, we also try to attend day session earlier in the week.  The Monday, in particular, is often a holiday in Canada, which works well.  Even though the top players (who have byes) won’t be playing, they’ll often be practicing around the grounds and there is always lots of tennis going on.

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Andre Agassi vs Jim Courier Legends Exhibition, Rogers Cup, 2011

That brings us to one of the downsides of the Rogers Cup compared to most of the other top level tournaments – as a live fan, you only get to watch either the ATP or WTA.  Having only one tour onsite means less matches, fewer players around the grounds, etc.  If you buy tickets for one of the semifinal sessions, you will only see one singles match for your money.  And no, the tickets don’t cost less because of that fact.  That’s a big reason we try to go to the earlier rounds, or the quarterfinals – better bang for your buck!

Once you’re onsite, the experience is great.  The grounds are spacious enough not to feel crowded.  There are plenty of retail options and a few fan activities (serve speed gun etc.)  The practice courts can let you watch the top players warm up, and it’s easy to get up close to players on the outside courts.

Any seat in the stadium is great.  We’ve sat everywhere from the back row of the Bronze section to sitting right in front of Sam Stosur’s players box for her final against Serena Williams, a couple of weeks before Stosur won the US Open.  There’s not a bad view anywhere.

stosur rogers cup tennis
Sam Stosur vs. Serena Williams, Women’s Final, Rogers Cup, 2011

We’ve been lucky enough to see many great matches at this event.  From Clijsters winning the championship over Henin in 2005, Murray beating Nadal in a 2010 semifinal, and Halep beating Radwanska in the quarters in 2015.

nadal murray rogers cup tennis pictures
Nadal vs Murray, Men’s Semi-Final, Rogers Cup in Toronto, 2010

We’ve also found that the army of volunteers at the Rogers Cup is one of the best of any tournament we’ve been to.  They keep everything running in an orderly fashion, and they are literally everywhere if you need any help or can’t find your way around.

Facilities

The site is at the Aviva Centre at Toronto’s York University.  It’s a bit north of the city itself, but not difficult to get to.  Until Toronto finally finishes the subway extension to York, it’s best to either take a shuttle bus from the Downsview subway terminus, or drive.  There is plenty of parking at the university, with shuttle buses running between the parking lots and the tennis stadium.

Getting into and out of the grounds is easy and efficient – none of the long lines you see at the US Open.

Although the stadium isn’t exactly new, it doesn’t show its age.  Hallways are wide, it’s easy to get around, and the seating is comfortable (or as comfortable as stadium seating can ever be).  Be warned though, there is no shade so it can get really hot watching the matches.

Food

This is our only other complaint about the Rogers Cup. The food service has improved slightly (i.e. now serving gourmet hot dogs rather than just regular hot dogs).  However, there is nowhere near the choice you get at tournaments like Indian Wells or even the smaller Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.  And we hope you like Corona, because that’s the only beer you’ll be drinking.

Tips

  • There is plenty of parking onsite, although it costs extra ($15-20 if we remember correctly) unless you bought parking along with your ticket
  • Parking lots are generally a 10-20 min walk from the stadium, but there are regular shuttle buses
  • There really are no bad seats in the stadium. Getting close to the action is always great, but going for a less expensive Silver or Bronze ticket still provides a great view of the tennis
  • Anyone with small kids will want to check out the free Family Weekend, the Saturday and Sunday before the tournament. It includes many family-friendly activities, plus you can see the stars practicing and some of the qualifying matches
  • If anyone plays tennis, the Mayfair West tennis club in North Toronto is the alternative indoor site for the Rogers Cup. Doubles matches have been played here when the tournament is trying to catch up after rain delays.  Sometimes you can see top players practicing here when the weather isn’t cooperating.  When Trevor was a member, he was once playing while Venus Williams practiced a couple of courts away.  You have to be a member to get in, but if you belong to a club that has reciprocal privileges at Mayfair in Toronto, you might get lucky

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