Despite the best efforts of this corner to assert otherwise over the course of the last 2+ years, there are still a fair share of individuals who would try to suggest that the image which exists of Toronto, Canada in the hearts and minds of most American-born professional athletes is that of a backwater wasteland.
Well … for the benefit of those people:
Today, however, Toronto is a road trip just about every pro athlete looks forward to. Some say the city has a cool, international vibe that increasingly stands out. Some like the plentitude of cheap concert tickets—a boon for athletes with big posses—or the convenience of the must-be-19 drinking law. (Rookie guard DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors, who is 20, was ordering chocolate milk at dinner before his teammates told him the good news).
Athletes get a warm welcome at the city’s relatively libertine gentlemen’s clubs which, according to a spokeswoman for the Toronto Convention and Visitors Bureau, tend to “clear out the champagne room” for visiting athletes. And it helps that the tentacles of the tabloids and gossip Web sites rarely extend this far into the frozen north. “People like to come here to party,” says Raptors power forward Chris Bosh.
Basketball stars like LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jamaal Magloire of the Miami Heat (a Toronto native) have come to Toronto for fun—even during the NBA offseason. Since the Buffalo Bills began playing annual games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) in 2008, an increasing number of NFL players have started passing through “the 416,” which is the city’s area code. Baseball players, who’ve been coming here since 1977 to play the Blue Jays, have good memories.
From a reputable source like the Wall Street Journal, no less.