Downtown Toronto businesses booming, thanks to Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays’ recent surge into serious postseason contention has energized the city’s playoff-starved baseball fans – and is boosting the fortunes of businesses near Rogers Centre, too.
“The Jays’ winning streak has helped 100 per cent,” said Frederico Munoz, bar manager at Milagro, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Toronto. “We are seeing almost twice as many customers. It’s been a full house here every night there’s a game.”
While regular-season games and events at Rogers Centre typically bring more customers to the area, the Blue Jays’ stellar season has amplified the usual impact. Over the weekend, the Jays hosted the New York Yankees in a sold-out, three-game series, during which the Entertainment District was packed with excited fans watching on big screen TVs as the Jays and Yankees battled for first place in the American League East.
Two of the sold-out weekend games were matinees and finished by midafternoon, so restaurants benefited from a double rush of customers looking for after-game drinks and then dinner.
“When they win, everyone is happy, they want to stick around and drink. When they lose, everyone just wants to go home,” said Mr. Munoz. “Right now, they are winning, and that’s a win for us, too.”
The Jays winning streak has attracted more fans than expected during a regular season, many of them first-timers and out-of-towners.
“People are coming from farther [away], and they are making a whole day out of it,” said Rojna Miripour, manager at the Lone Star Texas Grill, just a block away from the stadium. Even in the middle of a recent Jays game, the restaurant was buzzing with customers – and a hostess in a cowboy hat was just arriving for a later shift to help handle the postgame crowd.
“We schedule more staff this time around than we do for normal Jays games. There’s a big difference this season with the traffic we are getting,” said Ms. Miripour.
The influx in business is particularly welcomed after the Pan Am Games disappointed many local business owners. Many complained of sparse customer traffic, and said the organizers didn’t do enough to promote the events to visitors from outside of Toronto, but instead did a great job at scaring locals out of the city.
“Pan Am wasn’t even close to this. Everyone in the industry was expecting a lot of people, but it turned out to be three to four weeks of really bad business,” said Mr. Munoz. “This is very different.”
Ms. Mirapour agrees. “Pan Am was a letdown for businesses,” she said, “but the Jays are making up for it.”0