The Best Outdoor Sports Fields in Toronto
The best outdoor sports fields in Toronto get a lot of use this time of year. After all, the armchair athletes among us use the summer months to show off what's left of our kicks, throws, pitches and other skills. Whether you're meeting up with some old friends or looking to jump in on a game of pick up soccer, here's a list of some of the best outdoor sports fields in Toronto.
Dominico Field at Christie Pits
Good playing fields are hard to come by in the downtown area, and Christie Pits is not only a great place to play baseball close to the core, but also a great place to catch semi-pro baseball action as Dominico Field serves as the home field for the Toronto Maple Leafs (no relation to the hockey team). Whenever the Leafs, or any other rec league isn't using the diamond, it's a great place to settle friendly bets with your friends as you take a crack at hitting balls over the outfield fences.
North York Civic Soccer Fields
Most parks have limited playing space, especially on their premium fields, making it difficult to organize a casual game with friends, but that's not the case for these fields located on the west side of Bathurst Avenue north of Finch Avenue West. There are a total of seven full-size grass fields here and though there are many recreational leagues that use them, you can always find an empty field on which to practice your skills.
Cherry Beach Sports Fields
The Cherry Beach Sports fields were opened in September of 2008, by the city and Waterfront Toronto to expand the recreational use of the waterfront. Since then, it has been home to many recreational sports leagues, and served as training ground for Toronto FC, the Canadian National Team, as well as their visiting rivals and opponents. The best part of this state-of-the-art field is also the worst part. It features an artificial grass playing surface that means it will always be flat, the pitch will never need to be cut, and there will never be muddy patches near the goals on rainy days. On the flipside, the recycled rubber used to cushion the pitch makes for a very hot playing surface on summer days.
Located in the west end of Etobicoke, Centennial Park is not only one of the biggest parks in the city, but also home to many quality sports fields. Two cricket grounds, six baseball and softball diamonds, and eight soccer fields make it an athlete's dream. The fields, with the exception of the artificial turf inside Centennial Park Stadium, are all natural grass surfaces that are kept in great shape by the park staff. After working up a sweat at one of the many fields, you won't have to travel far to enjoy the refreshing beverage of your choice at the bar and patio located at the west side of the park near the batting cages.
Keelesdale Park is home to my favourite baseball diamond in the city. The park features two diamonds separated by Eglinton Avenue West. The south diamond has the more common white gravel infield and no perimeter fence or warning track. However, if you cross the street to the north side of Eglinton Avenue West at Black Creek Drive, you find one of Toronto's finest baseball diamonds. The combination of grass and dirt infield, raised pitcher's mound, and the manicured grass in the outfield are something out of the childhood fantasies where you step up to bat with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Being as great a field as it is, means you will likely need a permit from the city to play on this field, or be prepared to endure the merciless wrath of the groundskeeper, but if you can get some friends together it is definitely worth the extra effort.
Eglinton Flats, at the corner of Jane and Eglinton, is home to a total of twelve sports fields including eight soccer fields, two football fields, and two field hockey fields. It's not just the quality of the natural grass fields that draws me to this spot, but that it is also a great place to just show up and jump into a casual game of soccer with strangers from all over the world. There is always an empty field available and have never had a problem with any over-protective groundskeepers. Though the best of the eight dedicated soccer fields are on the southeast corner of Jane and Eglinton, the remaining five are on the northwest corner, the two field hockey fields have the thickest and shortest grass which are a pleasure to play on if you are looking to play a six on six game with your new friends.
Writing by Will Ramirez. Photo by ariehsinger in the blogTO Flickr pool.