Dominico Field at Christie Pits - Toronto Maple Leafs
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Dominico Field at Christie Pits 750 Bloor St W Toronto, ON M6G 3K4
Year Opened: 1969
The Leafs of the Pits
On January 11, 2022, Toronto lost Jack Dominico after 82 years of life. Jack was a mainstay at Christie Pits, home of his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were founded in 1969 by Dominico and hockey’s Alan Stanley. Eventually, the team would be taken over by Jack and his wife Lynne. The founding of the Maple Leafs was in response to the Toronto Maple Leafs of Minor League Baseball relocating to Louisville, Kentucky. Jack was the driving force behind the Maple Leafs, a truly unique experience in big city Toronto, which is a mainstay at Christie Pits Park.
The Leafs are a community team that does not sell tickets. It is free for fans to walk up and stay for a while. Sundays at 2 o’clock at Christie Pits was Jack’s time. The impact of Dominico on both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the amateur Intercounty Baseball League is so significant that the field at Christie Pits bears his name, as does the league’s championship trophy. The Leafs, as of this writing, remains owned by the estate of Jack Dominico and are run in his stead.
The City of Toronto-owned Dominico Field at Christie Pits has been the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs since its inception in 1969. Truly a neighbourhood ballpark that you could find yourself playing on if you were lucky, Christie Pits Park offers the neighbourhood several facilities. The Maple Leafs provide the simplest of experiences that should be embraced by baseball purists.
The food options at Christie Pits are pretty limited. The green snack bar building is beyond the centerfield fence. A small selection of items can be found there including hot dogs, chips, ice cream, soda, Freezies, soda, water, and Powerade. Pepsi products are the soft drink available at Christie Pits. Concession prices are not out of line, but are also not overly cheap. The possibility of an ice cream truck or food truck parked on Christie Street is there. However, the public park nature of Christie Pits allows fans to bring their food to the park with no problems.
Dominico Field is a neighbourhood ballpark. It is pretty much bare bones and there is not much in the way of amenities. Dominico Field is named after former owners Jack and Lynne Dominico, who were driving forces behind the Maple Leafs for decades. The ballpark is located at the northeast corner of Christie Pits Park. The park is sunken at that corner of the park which offers some significant hills, which many fans use for seating.
Some fans will sit on benches at street level and others will sit on the three rows of bleachers around the backstop. Other fans will sit on the lawn chairs they have brought with them beyond the outfield fence or on the other side of the foul territory fences. Attractive signs for the park are found at street level as well. There is a press box built into the hill, behind the plate which has a simple, digital scoreboard above it. Other than the sign dedicating the field to the Dominicos, there is nothing insinuating any history or the eight championships earned by the Maple Leafs.
The gameday atmosphere is very simple. Players do have some walkup music and local radio host, Roger Lajoie takes care of the PA duties. There are some raffles where tickets are sold, but that seems to be the extent of the promotions. Fans should keep in mind that the Maple Leafs are a family-owned, volunteer-driven organization that does not have much in the way of bells and whistles. Hearing the sounds of the game is paramount and a Maple Leafs game is good for old-school fans who enjoy the purity of the experience.
Christie Pits Park is located in the Christie Pits neighbourhood of Toronto, northwest of downtown. It is a very cosmopolitan neighbourhood and there are several options for pre-game food or drink within walking distance.
Christie Pits is bordered by Koreatown and Palmerston–Little Italy on the south. Burdock Brewery, Seoul Shakers, La Bella Managua, and Daldongnae Korean BBQ are all within walking distance, on Bloor Street. For fans who can’t seem to find what they are looking for near Christie Pits, a quick hop on the subway will bring fans to Downtown Toronto which seems to have a near limitless number of selections.
Toronto has a ton of sporting options which fans can also take advantage of. The Toronto Blue Jays of MLB play at Rogers Centre. Scotiabank Arena is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and Toronto Raptors of the NBA. Exhibition Place is the grounds where BMO Field, home of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and Toronto FC of MLS; and Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies of the AHL can be found. The University of Toronto fields a full complement of varsity teams as does Toronto Metro University. Of interest may be the Varsity Blues’ football, basketball and hockey teams. Checking out Toronto Metro’s hockey and basketball teams at the former Maple Leaf Gardens is also a must.
There are plenty of other things to do in the city that are a short subway ride away. Checking out Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum or the CN Tower is fun. The Hockey Hall of Fame is also downtown along with Ripley’s Aquarium. During the later part of the IBL season the Canadian National Exhibition is on and worth checking out. For fans wishing to stay near Christie Pits, The Annex is probably the closest, however, the best bet would be to stay at one of the many hotels downtown.
It is very difficult to assess fans in any of the Intercounty Baseball League experiences as attendance figures are not published. Assessing the fans of the Maple Leafs is even more challenging due to the structure of Christie Pits. There are no tickets sold and no boundaries to keep fans in once they are at the ballpark. That being said, it seems that fan support for the Toronto Maple Leafs is on the low side. There are some hardcore fans and regulars. For the game that was reviewed, there was a group of fans who excelled at trash-talking the opponents.
Dominico Field is located at Christie Pits Park in the Christie Pits neighbourhood of Toronto. Christie Pits is located northwest of downtown Toronto and is on the subway line. Christie Pita is not the easiest place to get to by car. It is located a pretty significant distance from all major highways and traversing the city streets of Toronto will be required to get there by car.
The parking situation is also a challenge. Street parking can be found in the neighbourhood and other options with a parking app may be found. The best way to get to the park is by taking the subway. The TTC, Christie Station is at the corner of Bloor and Christie, just steps from the park. Buses are also available along Bloor. Fans should check out the TTC website for fares, maps, and schedules.
The sunken nature of the park can make it a little challenging for people with mobility issues to get to. The hill is quite steep and although there is a walkway behind home plate it is not the easiest to travel.
Return on Investment 5
The investment at a Toronto Maple Leafs game is minimal at best. Tickets are not sold at Christie Pits. Fans can pick their spot to sit for free, whether it is on the bleachers or the berm.
An extra mark for the significant contributions to Intercounty Baseball from former owners of the Maple Leafs, Jack and Lynne Dominico. The championship trophy is named in honour of the departed owners, the Dominico Cup. An extra mark for the true community nature of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host of volunteers who make the team run.
The Toronto Maple Leafs of Intercounty Baseball is a truly unique experience in Toronto. It may be a little too simple for many, but for baseball purists who don’t enjoy all of the bells, whistles, and sirens, it could be just right. The price is perfect and it is still run today the way Jack Dominico would have wanted.
Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9.