02 December 2011

Open Letter

Dear Toronto,

You're a very groovy city. You have all sorts of culture and you're pedestrian friendly and you have fruit vendors on the streets, which we thought only happened in the movies. If we were living here, we'd probably be very happy.

As we're just visiting, though, we have some issues.

First, let's talk hotels. The choice should not come down to: $60/night for a closet-sized room that lacks both temperature control and on-site parking or $100/night for something decent. We're here for several days, and that nightly rate adds up. I've stayed in budget hotels before. I've stayed in a place that had roaches and ants and needed to have the room key re-coded twice a day, and that place was better than where I'm sitting right now. I know property's expensive in the city and all, but I'd almost rather sleep in my car than pay that much for this little.

Secondly, driving. I get that Toronto is a pedestrian/cyclist/public-transport kind of city. That's awesome. But that shouldn't mean that trying to do anything by car requires a degree in cartography, a two-year apprenticeship, and an endless supply of patience. It should also not take an hour to go ten miles. I strongly suggest some research into things like flex time (so everyone's not trying to use the same road at once), traffic light synchronization (so one can move more than a block before hitting another red light), and reflective paint for the lines that help drivers know what lane is theirs and what lane belongs to the bus/trolly. Years ago I taught myself how to drive by spending a lot of time in Manhattan, and that training definitely came out last night... I'm sorry for being kind of a jerk out there, but it was that or let the car transform into a gian robot and just stomp everyone to death.

And finally, roller derby. ToRD, we love you, and we think you're the bees knees for hosting this event. But how in the world do you expect to be able to handle the insane number of fans you're going to get on Saturday and Sunday if Thursday's relatively small crowd was almost too much for the venue? I understand why you had to set up two tracks (there is, after all, a lot of derby that needs to happen this weekend), and that, because it's a film studio instead of a sports arena, you had to bring in bleachers, but the amount of seating is simply inadequate for the number of people, it's difficult to get from one track to the other because people are sitting wherever they can find space (often in the walkways), and apparently the only way to get a team's merch is to not watch them, because you only have each team's merch out when they're actively playing.

There's also the matter of the check-in tables (waiting outside in December in Toronto for the better part of an hour because you didn't have enough ticket-checkers issuing wristbands was not fun, lemme tell ya) and the food lines... I get the feeling you weren't expecting a thousand of us to show up all at once. Lesson learned? Maybe? We're going to compensate on our end by getting there wicked early and keeping the same seats all day instead of trying to go from one track to the other, and we're hoping you get things sorted on your end, too.

I'm not even going to talk about the washroom situation. I simply have no words.

So, with all the bitching out of the way, let's get to the positive bits, shall we?

The crowd here is spectacular. People cheer for good skaters and good moves no matter what team they support, folks are generally friendly and eager to connect with other fans, and the skating is great! Last night, when USA creamed New Zealand by three-hundred-something to eight, every single fan went hoarse congratulating NZ on those precious few points. I have never seen anything like it. The people watching the other track must have wondered what happened, because the eruption of sound as people realized that the NZ jammer had actually made it through the pack was deafening.

The programs are beautiful. We would have liked to see the schedule in the program posted on the website for the benefit of those who couldn't be here in person, but since we are here in person, I suppose we shouldn't complain. We love that we can write in our brackets, we love the team pages, and we love that it was affordable. Keep the printing company -- they rock.

It's about time for breakfast, so I'm going to leave it at that for the time being. Summary: the event is fantastic, and we're thrilled to be part of it, but the logistics could use a lot of work.

Love and bruises,
Flocci Lady