Lacrosse in the Spotlight: Toronto Rock
This game-day guide has everything you need to know for the best home game experience.
As one of just 14 lacrosse teams in the National Lacrosse League, the Toronto Rock offers one of the only chances to see professional box lacrosse in Toronto. The Rock is one of three Toronto teams to play at Scotiabank Arena, the city’s iconic, state-of-the-art stadium. The Toronto Rock have been a powerhouse team since their inception in 1998, winning the NLL Championship for the first time in 1999 and five times since.
Lacrosse, a sport in which players throw the hardball using cradle-like nets, is an increasingly popular sport due to its difficulty and technique. In fact, the NLL is the largest professional men’s league in the world—and it’s still pretty small! The league includes teams across Canada and the U.S., but there are by no means teams for every city as an up-and-coming sport.
Although it’s just becoming popular as an indoor school and professional sport, the game has actually been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest sports in the history of North America. In fact, the sport has a distinctly Canadian history. Indigenous Americans and the Algonquian first nation tribe are the first to have played the sport, then called “stickball” or “baggataway.” The NLL’s teams play box lacrosse, an indoor version of the sport, but field lacrosse, or outdoor lacrosse, is popular in Canada.
For the Toronto Rock, history is much shorter but no less fascinating. As the first Canadian team in the NLL, the players have had to set the bar for lacrosse in the country, and so they have. The team was in the championship game for its first five years in the league, solidifying it as a leading lacrosse team in Canada and one of Toronto’s best sports teams overall. Come to Scotiabank Arena to watch some of the world’s best lacrosse players do their thing!
Places to eat in and near Scotiabank Arena
Scotiabank Arena fills with the smells of poutine, hot dogs, and fried food when the Rock comes to play in true game-day spirit. With food stalls dotted throughout the stadium, there’s no shortage of options that will satisfy vegetarians and vegans, meat lovers, and picky eaters. Gourmet mac and cheese is a favourite at the stadium or finds one of the arena’s sit-down restaurants to enjoy a bite before the game or half-time.
Scotiabank Arena is not only home to three Toronto sports teams—it’s one of the only Canadian arenas with a brewery inside, as well! Craft beer heads can find fresh Rickards brews made on-site, at stands throughout the stadium.
Hot Stove Club
Known as a favourite of infamous former Leafs owner Harold Ballard, the Hot Stove Club is a classic steakhouse that opened in 1963. The place was overhauled in 2012, and now it stands as one of the more sleek and modern places to eat in Scotiabank Arena.
Mac & Cheese Boutique
Yes, you read that right. This food stall by Toronto’s Cheese Boutique and Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment cooks up specialty mac and cheese—and on a grilled cheese sandwich if you desire.
For wine lovers, purchasing a platinum seat at the stadium is worth the included access to the Platinum Club. This high-end bar and restaurant have a classy, upscale atmosphere to go with its selection of world-class wines and five-star meals.
Things to do at Scotiabank Arena
As the home to three of Toronto’s famous sports teams, the Scotiabank Arena is filled with history, merch, and fun spots to explore. Make sure to stop into every shop you can to pick up the ultimate Toronto Rock gear, like a miniature lacrosse stick signed by your favourite player, a colourful jersey, or a Rock-themed lacrosse ball for future lacrosse stars.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Scotiabank Arena ICONS, musicians (like Madonna) and organizations (like the WWE) that have contributed to the arena’s success, portraits of whom are showcased in the Galleria, a covered public square near Union Station. The Galleria, which is home to several shopping and eating locations, also showcases artifacts that speak to the building’s history, originally the first Canada Post Delivery Building.
Outside, make sure to snap a photo with the arena’s iconic and ever-changing jumbo screen, advertising the day’s events in bright colours. The screen even changes on holidays and days of mourning, so make sure to check it out any time you’re in Toronto.
One of Scotiabank Arena’s most notable things is how accessible the entire stadium is, both within and outside. The PATH system is a covered walkway that stretches from the stadium to downtown Dundas Street, Union Station, and the Galleria. Don’t miss the nearby Harbourfront and some of downtown Toronto’s coolest attractions like the Ripley’s Aquarium and the CN Tower nearby.
Fun facts about lacrosse and the Toronto Rock
- The Toronto Rock were originally called the Ontario Raiders when the team was founded in 1998
- The Rock used to play at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. They then moved to Maple Leaf Gardens, where they played along with the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team
- The team is tied with the Philadelphia Wings for most championship wins in the league. Both teams have won six championship titles so far
- In their first season, the Rock did not make the playoffs due to a tie-breaker.
- The Rock has a championship dynasty of two years, 1999 and 2000
- The Rock played in the NLL championship game for their first five years in the league.
- Lacrosse was deemed as the official summer sport of Canada in 1994. (Hockey is the country’s official winter sport.)
- During Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, a chief of the Odawa tribe started a game of lacrosse to divert the attention of British soldiers. In doing so, the chief’s soldiers were able to breach Fort Michilimackinac, now the state of Michigan
- Lacrosse sticks can be seen in antique photos of the Ojibwa, a subsect of the Anishinaabeg tribe. Historians think the game of lacrosse, then called baggataway or tewaarathon depending on the area, was used to keep people in shape and possibly even to keep diplomacy between communities intact
- There is no women’s box lacrosse team in Canada. However, the women’s field lacrosse team, Team Canada, has won several championships and remains at the top of the world charts
- Canada’s national team won the Olympic gold medal for lacrosse at the fourth Olympics in 1908
How to get to Scotiabank Arena
Located in downtown Toronto, Scotiabank Arena is easily accessible by all methods of transport.
By car from the east or west: The Don Valley Parkway from the east and the Gardiner Expressway from the west lead to Lakeshore Boulevard, off of which drivers should turn onto Bay Street.
Parking: Pre-booking is available for parking near the arena, recommended as downtown is bustling on game days.
By bus: The 6 and 72 busses will bring passengers to Union Station, a few minutes walk from the arena.
By TTC or subway: Streetcars 509 and 510 also stop at this station and the Yonge/University/Spadina subway line.