USF squad samples Toronto
TORONTO - The University of South Florida football team is here to play in the International Bowl on Saturday, but Wednesday the Bulls experienced one of Canada's biggest sporting events. It wasn't a Maple Leafs or Raptors playoff game, but the announcement of Team Canada's hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Dear Bulls, you're not in America anymore. "I knew how big hockey was here," said freshman receiver Evan Landi said. "But I didn't know how much of an honor it is to be selected. It was kind of cool to be here when they selected the team." The announcement was shown live on nearly all the major networks and drew instant reaction from millions across this hockey-crazed country. As soon as the team was announced, workers at the Hockey Hall of Fame near USF's hotel began unloading boxes of red Team Canada T-shirts and jerseys as fans began lining up.It was the kind of day that makes USF's trip to Toronto, one of North America's most cosmopolitan and diverse cities, so unique in the bowl experience. Landi, who did several interviews Wednesday with local media because he used to play hockey, appreciated the experience perhaps more than any other player. A former junior hockey player, Landi has been to Toronto several times and even contemplated playing in the Ontario Hockey League before deciding on college football. After practice and interviews, Landi and some teammates headed to the CN Tower to get a better view of all the international madness below. Toronto is a regular stop on the schedule for the Rays and Lightning, but college football remains a foreign import for Canada's largest city. The Bulls are trying to sample some of Toronto's most famous places. CN Tower A few months before the Bucs played the first game in franchise history, this defining monument of the Toronto skyline opened June 26, 1976. The CN Tower is the world's largest free-standing tower at 1,815 feet. Hockey Hall of Fame To truly understand Canada, you have to know something about hockey. There is nowhere better to experience the game's history and influence than the Hockey Hall of Fame. Casa Loma Spanish for "Hill House," this famous Toronto landmark was built in a three-year period starting in 1911. Casa Loma sits on a hill on the west side of downtown providing a breathtaking view of the city, one enjoyed Tuesday night by several members of the USF traveling party. Rogers Centre Formerly known as SkyDome, the world's first stadium to feature a fully retractable roof opened in 1989. The Bulls practiced there Wednesday. Toronto Island Park For those brave enough to venture outside of the city's underground tunnel system and onto a ferry, this popular landmark offers a great view of the city's skyline. Toronto entertainment district The players have several outings scheduled for trips to this eight-block stretch in downtown Toronto that features numerous restaurants, pubs and popular night spots, including the Princess of Wales Theatre. Air Canada Centre This sports and entertainment arena is home to the NHL's Maple Leafs and the NBA's Raptors. The arena celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year. Maple Leaf Gardens One of the most famous arenas in history, Maple Leaf Gardens hasn't seen much use since the Maple Leafs moved out in 1999, but it will always be the only site the Beatles performed at during all three of their North American tours.
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