Garth Brooks spreads the love to local businesses, kids

WhatsOn Mar 28, 2016 by Steve Arnold The Hamilton Spectator

Country music superstar Garth Brooks delivered for thousands of fans during five weekend concerts in Hamilton.

He didn't do so badly for parking lot and restaurant operators around FirstOntario Centre either.

Brooks performed two shows in Hamilton Saturday night, filling parking lots and restaurants to capacity before the early performance at 7:00 and promising an interesting change before the 10:30 show as 18,000 fans tried to exit the arena while another 18,000 tried to get in.

For fans like Bill and Dana Thorogood, of Simcoe, any challenge was worth the chance to see a performer Dana has long admired.

"I love Garth and I've always wanted to see him," she said in a Facebook conversation. "I missed him in Vegas. This was definitely one for the bucket list."

Their experience of the evening was relatively painless — dinner at the Brux House on Locke Street was not crowded, but traffic to FirstOntario Centre was "crazy" and parking thin.

Still, they found a place and breezed through the centre's entrance in time for the first notes.

"There were huge lines, but everything was really well organized," she said.

Fans started streaming downtown as early as 5:30 for the first performance, quickly overflowing all the parking lots around the arena. A spot under Jackson Square was going for $30 for the evening — if any had been available. By 5:30 the "lot full" sign was out.

It was the same story for the lots at Bay and Market streets and at Main and Bay by the new Homewood Suites hotel.

Those with strong legs quickly filled up the on-street spots as far south as Bold Street.

Cheaper parking was available under the Hamilton Convention Centre. A spot there went for $7 for the evening, but the cowboy hat and boots posse was competing there with devotees of the Hosanna Choir, of Dundas, singing Easter praises to their lord and saviour.

The HSR helped to ease some of the traffic congestion by running special shuttle busses from Limeridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza. Rides downtown cost $10. HSR services were also extended for the evening.

Core Entertainment, operator of FirstOntario Centre, helped by urging concertgoers to consider carpooling or transit options. The company even posted parking and transit information on its website.

Those hints will still be useful for fans with tickets for Sunday's final Hamilton show.

Restaurant seats right around the arena were even scarcer than parking spots. A quick survey of the Anchor Bar, Honest Lawyer and The Works burger bar found wait times of up to 45 minutes at 6:15.

That didn't concern veteran Brooks fan Paul Rogers, of Bradford. He was on his sixth venture to see the country star, having previously followed him as far afield as Texas and Las Vegas.

"He's just a great entertainer," Rogers said. "His songs are about life and I just love his music."

He got his tickets as a gift from his daughter the instant they went on sale. Fortunately, his were for the second show, giving him a chance to wander downtown looking for a place to eat.

"We'll find something," he said.

Before the back-to-back shows, Brooks spent Saturday morning and the early part of the afternoon with his Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation sports program.

The 10-year-old program presents the sports camp at every stop on Brooks' tour. The camps are free to participants of selected organizations. They vary by sport and are led by professional athletes and coaches.

Saturday's event at Hillfield Strathallan College gave 100 boys and girls aged 9-13 from the Tim Hortons Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton & Burlington, Adelaide Hoodless Elementary School and Kids Up Front Toronto a chance to spend the morning honing ball hockey skills under the watchful eye of "Head Coach" Brooks and retired NHL players Brian Willsie, Greg de Vries and Scott Walker.

At the event Brooks said the program was designed to give children a chance to gain the benefits of organized sports they might not otherwise have.

"It's a chance to make some new friends," he said. "They're making relations and getting to see these guys and realizing it can happen to any of us through hard work and dedication."

Walker, who played professionally between 1993 and 2010, said he stays involved with the program because of what he gets from seeing kids succeed.

"There's a young girl here who didn't even know how to hold the stick, but 20 minutes in she was taking a shot and putting it right where she wanted to," he said. "You could just see her beam with excitement.

"That story will resonate with me for a long time," he added.

Walker said he also admires the example of Brooks giving back through the program.

"It's about making friends, it's not about becoming a great athlete or making lots of money. It's about becoming a good person," he said. "I've been around with Garth a long time and he does it just to give back. He doesn't want anything or expect anything from it, he just wants the kids to enjoy and learn from it."

Willsie also enthused about the example set by Brooks.

"It's awesome. It's a great thing that Garth's doing. It's very easy for three local guys to to come down and do this. We're fortunate to be part of this."

De Vries values the chance to teach.

"It's a great experience for us. We were professional hockey players but we can take that now and teach these guys that what we learned in hockey they can use as life skills," he said. "There's lots about respecting your team and working together, learning how to make friends. Doing it in a team environment is a lot of fun."

sarnold@thespec.com

905-526-3496 | @arnoldatTheSpec

Garth Brooks spreads the love to local businesses, kids

WhatsOn Mar 28, 2016 by Steve Arnold The Hamilton Spectator

Country music superstar Garth Brooks delivered for thousands of fans during five weekend concerts in Hamilton.

He didn't do so badly for parking lot and restaurant operators around FirstOntario Centre either.

Brooks performed two shows in Hamilton Saturday night, filling parking lots and restaurants to capacity before the early performance at 7:00 and promising an interesting change before the 10:30 show as 18,000 fans tried to exit the arena while another 18,000 tried to get in.

For fans like Bill and Dana Thorogood, of Simcoe, any challenge was worth the chance to see a performer Dana has long admired.

Related Content

"I love Garth and I've always wanted to see him," she said in a Facebook conversation. "I missed him in Vegas. This was definitely one for the bucket list."

Their experience of the evening was relatively painless — dinner at the Brux House on Locke Street was not crowded, but traffic to FirstOntario Centre was "crazy" and parking thin.

Still, they found a place and breezed through the centre's entrance in time for the first notes.

"There were huge lines, but everything was really well organized," she said.

Fans started streaming downtown as early as 5:30 for the first performance, quickly overflowing all the parking lots around the arena. A spot under Jackson Square was going for $30 for the evening — if any had been available. By 5:30 the "lot full" sign was out.

It was the same story for the lots at Bay and Market streets and at Main and Bay by the new Homewood Suites hotel.

Those with strong legs quickly filled up the on-street spots as far south as Bold Street.

Cheaper parking was available under the Hamilton Convention Centre. A spot there went for $7 for the evening, but the cowboy hat and boots posse was competing there with devotees of the Hosanna Choir, of Dundas, singing Easter praises to their lord and saviour.

The HSR helped to ease some of the traffic congestion by running special shuttle busses from Limeridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza. Rides downtown cost $10. HSR services were also extended for the evening.

Core Entertainment, operator of FirstOntario Centre, helped by urging concertgoers to consider carpooling or transit options. The company even posted parking and transit information on its website.

Those hints will still be useful for fans with tickets for Sunday's final Hamilton show.

Restaurant seats right around the arena were even scarcer than parking spots. A quick survey of the Anchor Bar, Honest Lawyer and The Works burger bar found wait times of up to 45 minutes at 6:15.

That didn't concern veteran Brooks fan Paul Rogers, of Bradford. He was on his sixth venture to see the country star, having previously followed him as far afield as Texas and Las Vegas.

"He's just a great entertainer," Rogers said. "His songs are about life and I just love his music."

He got his tickets as a gift from his daughter the instant they went on sale. Fortunately, his were for the second show, giving him a chance to wander downtown looking for a place to eat.

"We'll find something," he said.

Before the back-to-back shows, Brooks spent Saturday morning and the early part of the afternoon with his Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation sports program.

The 10-year-old program presents the sports camp at every stop on Brooks' tour. The camps are free to participants of selected organizations. They vary by sport and are led by professional athletes and coaches.

Saturday's event at Hillfield Strathallan College gave 100 boys and girls aged 9-13 from the Tim Hortons Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton & Burlington, Adelaide Hoodless Elementary School and Kids Up Front Toronto a chance to spend the morning honing ball hockey skills under the watchful eye of "Head Coach" Brooks and retired NHL players Brian Willsie, Greg de Vries and Scott Walker.

At the event Brooks said the program was designed to give children a chance to gain the benefits of organized sports they might not otherwise have.

"It's a chance to make some new friends," he said. "They're making relations and getting to see these guys and realizing it can happen to any of us through hard work and dedication."

Walker, who played professionally between 1993 and 2010, said he stays involved with the program because of what he gets from seeing kids succeed.

"There's a young girl here who didn't even know how to hold the stick, but 20 minutes in she was taking a shot and putting it right where she wanted to," he said. "You could just see her beam with excitement.

"That story will resonate with me for a long time," he added.

Walker said he also admires the example of Brooks giving back through the program.

"It's about making friends, it's not about becoming a great athlete or making lots of money. It's about becoming a good person," he said. "I've been around with Garth a long time and he does it just to give back. He doesn't want anything or expect anything from it, he just wants the kids to enjoy and learn from it."

Willsie also enthused about the example set by Brooks.

"It's awesome. It's a great thing that Garth's doing. It's very easy for three local guys to to come down and do this. We're fortunate to be part of this."

De Vries values the chance to teach.

"It's a great experience for us. We were professional hockey players but we can take that now and teach these guys that what we learned in hockey they can use as life skills," he said. "There's lots about respecting your team and working together, learning how to make friends. Doing it in a team environment is a lot of fun."

sarnold@thespec.com

905-526-3496 | @arnoldatTheSpec

Garth Brooks spreads the love to local businesses, kids

WhatsOn Mar 28, 2016 by Steve Arnold The Hamilton Spectator

Country music superstar Garth Brooks delivered for thousands of fans during five weekend concerts in Hamilton.

He didn't do so badly for parking lot and restaurant operators around FirstOntario Centre either.

Brooks performed two shows in Hamilton Saturday night, filling parking lots and restaurants to capacity before the early performance at 7:00 and promising an interesting change before the 10:30 show as 18,000 fans tried to exit the arena while another 18,000 tried to get in.

For fans like Bill and Dana Thorogood, of Simcoe, any challenge was worth the chance to see a performer Dana has long admired.

Related Content

"I love Garth and I've always wanted to see him," she said in a Facebook conversation. "I missed him in Vegas. This was definitely one for the bucket list."

Their experience of the evening was relatively painless — dinner at the Brux House on Locke Street was not crowded, but traffic to FirstOntario Centre was "crazy" and parking thin.

Still, they found a place and breezed through the centre's entrance in time for the first notes.

"There were huge lines, but everything was really well organized," she said.

Fans started streaming downtown as early as 5:30 for the first performance, quickly overflowing all the parking lots around the arena. A spot under Jackson Square was going for $30 for the evening — if any had been available. By 5:30 the "lot full" sign was out.

It was the same story for the lots at Bay and Market streets and at Main and Bay by the new Homewood Suites hotel.

Those with strong legs quickly filled up the on-street spots as far south as Bold Street.

Cheaper parking was available under the Hamilton Convention Centre. A spot there went for $7 for the evening, but the cowboy hat and boots posse was competing there with devotees of the Hosanna Choir, of Dundas, singing Easter praises to their lord and saviour.

The HSR helped to ease some of the traffic congestion by running special shuttle busses from Limeridge Mall, Eastgate Square and University Plaza. Rides downtown cost $10. HSR services were also extended for the evening.

Core Entertainment, operator of FirstOntario Centre, helped by urging concertgoers to consider carpooling or transit options. The company even posted parking and transit information on its website.

Those hints will still be useful for fans with tickets for Sunday's final Hamilton show.

Restaurant seats right around the arena were even scarcer than parking spots. A quick survey of the Anchor Bar, Honest Lawyer and The Works burger bar found wait times of up to 45 minutes at 6:15.

That didn't concern veteran Brooks fan Paul Rogers, of Bradford. He was on his sixth venture to see the country star, having previously followed him as far afield as Texas and Las Vegas.

"He's just a great entertainer," Rogers said. "His songs are about life and I just love his music."

He got his tickets as a gift from his daughter the instant they went on sale. Fortunately, his were for the second show, giving him a chance to wander downtown looking for a place to eat.

"We'll find something," he said.

Before the back-to-back shows, Brooks spent Saturday morning and the early part of the afternoon with his Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation sports program.

The 10-year-old program presents the sports camp at every stop on Brooks' tour. The camps are free to participants of selected organizations. They vary by sport and are led by professional athletes and coaches.

Saturday's event at Hillfield Strathallan College gave 100 boys and girls aged 9-13 from the Tim Hortons Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton & Burlington, Adelaide Hoodless Elementary School and Kids Up Front Toronto a chance to spend the morning honing ball hockey skills under the watchful eye of "Head Coach" Brooks and retired NHL players Brian Willsie, Greg de Vries and Scott Walker.

At the event Brooks said the program was designed to give children a chance to gain the benefits of organized sports they might not otherwise have.

"It's a chance to make some new friends," he said. "They're making relations and getting to see these guys and realizing it can happen to any of us through hard work and dedication."

Walker, who played professionally between 1993 and 2010, said he stays involved with the program because of what he gets from seeing kids succeed.

"There's a young girl here who didn't even know how to hold the stick, but 20 minutes in she was taking a shot and putting it right where she wanted to," he said. "You could just see her beam with excitement.

"That story will resonate with me for a long time," he added.

Walker said he also admires the example of Brooks giving back through the program.

"It's about making friends, it's not about becoming a great athlete or making lots of money. It's about becoming a good person," he said. "I've been around with Garth a long time and he does it just to give back. He doesn't want anything or expect anything from it, he just wants the kids to enjoy and learn from it."

Willsie also enthused about the example set by Brooks.

"It's awesome. It's a great thing that Garth's doing. It's very easy for three local guys to to come down and do this. We're fortunate to be part of this."

De Vries values the chance to teach.

"It's a great experience for us. We were professional hockey players but we can take that now and teach these guys that what we learned in hockey they can use as life skills," he said. "There's lots about respecting your team and working together, learning how to make friends. Doing it in a team environment is a lot of fun."

sarnold@thespec.com

905-526-3496 | @arnoldatTheSpec