Monday, July 8, 2013

My Becker's Story at a Toronto Blue Jays Baseball game

The Roger's Centre is a busy place on Game Day
Over the weekend I had a chance to attend a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. A few weeks ago I was actually offered two tickets to see the Toronto Blue Jays play against the Minnesota Twins. When I was offered the tickets I said yes right away since I hadn't been to a professional baseball game in almost 10 years. To be honest the costs associated with going downtown to see a game is the main thing that keeps me from going. So when someone offered me free tickets to the game the obvious choice was to say yes. I was hopeful that the seats would be somewhat accessible - as living with Becker Muscular Dystrophy I have major difficulties when it comes to going up and down the steps you find at most stadiums. But I decided to wait until the tickets arrived to see where my seats were. I wasn't overly concerned as I knew if I had any issues I could always call the Rogers Centre where the Blue Jays play and request accessible seating. Well the tickets arrived and my seats were great the only issue was the fact that the only way to access them was by climbing down a total of 18 steps. As many of you might already know that at this point in my progression this simply isn't possible. So the first thing I did was visit the Rogers Centre online to view their accessible seating policies. The first thing they suggest is to call ahead and make them aware of any special requests for accessible seating. They also suggested that it is best to call at least 24 hours ahead of time to make sure seating is available. So the day before the game I called and left a message asking them to call me back, letting them know that I would like to exchange my tickets and sit in the reserved accessible seating. Long story short no one from the Rogers Centre ever did call me back but I will admit maybe I should have called earlier in the week to give them an opportunity to take care of my request. But even though I hadn't heard back from them I really wasn't that worried about it so the next day we made our way into Toronto to see the game.
Blue Jays Mascot Ace entertaining the crowd
The first challenge once we arrive is finding parking which in any big city during a baseball game is going to be hard to find and expensive. The parking lot we ended up using cost us $30 and was right beside the Roger's Centre which was great only down side was the fact that it was in an underground parking garage. Thankfully they did have accessible parking only down side was the fact that there was no elevator but the attendant in the garage said I would only have to do a few stairs so I was hopeful he was right. He was wrong, I get to the stairs and there is two flights to the top and since I had already parked I had no choice but to climb the stairs. Not something I was looking forward to but with a railing on each I was able to make my way slowly up the stairs with my wife behind me ready to catch me if I happened to fall. Thankfully it all worked out and after I made my way up the stairs it was time to locate the accessible entrance which can be found at gate seven. When we arrived the staff at the Roger's Centre we very helpful and nice, one kind lady even offered to push me in a wheelchair but I let them know I can still walk it was just the fact that I couldn't go up or down the steps leading to my seats. My wife and I were taken to guest services and the lady who was helping us went off to see if there was any accessible seating still available. When she came back she said there was no accessible seating left, so she gave us new tickets closer to the top so I wouldn't have to do too many steps. It really wasn't what I was looking for but we accepted the new tickets which actually didn't improve our current situation. You see even those without physical limitations know that when it comes to seating at most baseball parks that it can be pretty cramped and when it comes to leg room good luck. Ask anyone living with Becker Muscular Dystrophy who have been at this stage of progression and they will tell you we need a lot of room when it comes to getting up from any seat.
View from Accessible seating at the Roger's Centre
Anyways with our new seating not being a major improvement it looked like my wife and I were going to have to stand for the entire game. It was at this point when we felt as if we might as well just leave. But I didn't drive this far and pay $30 for parking to just end up leaving. So I decided to go back to guest services and let them know that unfortunately the new seats simply weren't going to work. At this point she said she would call a supervisor who could better assist me. During the whole experience I remained calm and polite since I knew they would do their best to accommodate me. It was at this point the supervisor led us to the accessible seating area and set up a few chairs for my wife and I and the situation was resolved. I truly believe that the staff at the Roger's Centre did a great job taking care of me and this resulted in us having a great time attending my first Blue Jays game in almost 10 years. The best part is the fact that even though we had to give up some great seats we still had a great view of the field. Best of all the accessible seating overlooked home plate which gave us a great vantage point to watch the game from. Sadly on this afternoon the Blue Jay's lost to the Minnesota Twins but we still had a great day.
Amazing view from the Harbour Front in Toronto, Ontario
After the game we met up with some friends and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at Toronto's very popular Harbour Front. We walked along the boardwalk next to lake Ontario and eventually ended up at a restaurant overlooking the water. The view was amazing and while we were enjoying our meal off in the distance yachts and various boats passed by. Another impressive site was the world famous CN Tower which you can see from the Harbour Front. I am so glad that I had the opportunity see a Blue Jays game and enjoy sometime in Downtown Toronto on what turned out to be an amazing summer day.
View of the world famous CN Tower 
Street Performer at Toronto's Harbour Front

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