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Craft and Game Day Billboard. Photo courtesy of Colin Noden.

Tour Your Own City: An Ottawa Soccer Game Day Experience

By Colin Noden on October 1, 2021

You’ve been waiting almost two years to do this, and now it’s not only allowed, but encouraged. Invite friends over. Go see a game. Raise a glass at a busy restaurant. Browse and shop ‘till you drop. It sounds surreal, doesn’t it?

Ottawa Tourism designed a clever and fun plan to boost the economy for our hard-hit independent retail, hospitality, and restaurant sectors.

It’s simple math. Take a couple Ottawans, get them to invite a couple of people from out of town and go on a special experience. Double the money in the economy and double the fun for the group.

We thought we’d come up with an experience to suggest for Apt613 readers, revolving around a professional soccer game in the heart of the city.

In exchange for an honest review, Apt613 was offered a complimentary day out by Ottawa Tourism.

Pregame Retail Therapy

I suggest coming to the game early and taking in some window shopping, an artisanal snack, and a few unique purchases. The Glebe is renowned for retaining a small local unique flavour.

Glebe Trotters has quality footwear and locally made accessories. This is the place to find limited edition items. Belts and bags straight from the leatherworker in Chelsea.

Lilly Clutch Purse from Glebe Trotters. Photo Courtesy of Glebe Trotters.

All Eco is a treasure trove, for things you always needed but never knew it, and for those secret Santa gifts you have to buy every year. It’s focused on eco-friendly products which are unique and Canadian sourced.

Maybe it’s time to replace that stained baseball cap that always ends up on your head, in which case we’ve literally got you covered. Mickle Macks Haberdashery has Canadian-made hats and accessories. This place sells the brand of hats Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip wore on their final tour in Canada.


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Don’t forget to fuel up for the game! The Wild Oat is a must for scratch-made bakery items and healthy lunches. The produce is sourced from their own organic and regenerative farm, just outside of Ottawa.

Now you’re ready to head over to the TD Place Gate for your soccer experience.

The Atlético Pro-Soccer Experience

My spouse jumped up and screamed with the crowd as fans answered the roar from the goalie.

A player surged through the bodies packed around him after a double diving save, holding the ball high and giving a bellow of victory that would have impressed King Kong.

The Atlético team defending the corner kick. Photo by Colin Noden.

If your only experience of professional soccer is from a few minutes watching it on TV, you might get the impression the game is just a bunch of players running back and forth at random. Once you experience a live match, you’ll understand the excitement that transforms whole cities around the world on game day.

Two 45-minute halves of nonstop action allow you to develop a relationship with the players. We began picking favourites and giving them nicknames. The Scrambler, #44, “Look at how hard he works! He deserves to get a goal. What? Defenders don’t get goals? Well, he deserves one.”

But more important, it was the entire team who moved as a solid force. This is the secret to the Atlético strategy and culture, inherited from their Founding Club in Madrid.


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Back on the field, the referee gave two short blasts of the whistle. Everyone stopped, then sauntered off the field. She turned to me. “That’s it? That was 45 minutes? How did the second half go so fast?” The fans seemed to share her confusion as they continued banging drums and singing some slurred song. The Atlético team had won the match, but people wanted more.

Lucky for them, the season’s not over, but it’s getting close! You can order tickets on the Atlético Website. Hurry, there are only a few home games left in the season.

A Post-Game Refuel at Craft

Leaving the game is like following a river of excitement. Craft Beer Market is right around the corner from the exit. The staff are used to this and get people in fast. The place is huge but divided up into cozy sections. You’ll get the post-game hum but still be able to have a comfortable conversation as you dissect the game and work out the adrenaline.

One beer you should definitely consider is the “Community Brew.” The menu says, “It’s a seasonal beer with a dollar of the purchase going to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord’s call to build a better Canada.”

Craft Community Brew. Photo by Colin Noden.

Not into beer? No worries. There’s a large selection of options.

This is the best time to take advantage of a trip to Ottawa. The leaves are changing, the weather is nice and cool (not hot & sticky). Businesses are open. And health regulations are comfortable. Have fun!

Ottawa Tourism #Invite2 is one of a series of promotions designed to support Ottawa’s hospitality sector. For more benefits available, check out the City Friends with Benefits page.