Toronto hotel's early playoff fever is for the birds, Orioles fans say


Toronto's Sheraton hotel is betting that the Blue Jays have a playoff spot locked up -- even though the Orioles are closing fast on first place. And that burns some Orioles fans.

The hotel, within walking distance of the Blue Jays' SkyDome home, is offering "Grand Slam" discount room rates during the playoffs and World Series to lure fans. Celebrants would pay a special rate of $108 U.S. per room from Oct. 5 through Oct. 23, a break from standard rates of $135 to $155.

But some Orioles fans think the Blue Jays will fade. Baltimore was only 2 1/2 games behind going into last night's games, with a third of the regular season remaining.

Noting that Toronto had lost ground this week, Daietez Jackson predicted that the "falling" Blue Jays won't make the playoffs, allowing the Orioles "to go crazy and win the World Series."

"I just don't understand why [Sheraton] would do something like that this early," Guy De Antonio added.

The newly renovated Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and Towers in Toronto stands by its offer. Hotel officials aren't even spooked by the recent Reebok fiasco, in which the $2 million "Dan and Dave" ad campaign collapsed when Dan O'Brien failed to qualify for the Olympic decathlon.

"We're so confident, and Toronto is so proud of its team, that we want to get the message out that we're going that far," said the Toronto Sheraton's public relations director, Cynthia Bond. Even the Blue Jays don't make the playoffs, the hotel will honor the special rate, she said.

The Orioles, meanwhile, see the deal as standard practice used by business. "It's not unusual; every city that has a team in the [pennant] race is doing something like this," said Bob Miller, the team's assistant public relations director.

Local hotels haven't planned similar promotions, but they say it isn't because they lack confidence in the Orioles.

The Sheraton Inner Harbor, a long throw from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, has no plans to offer fans special rates. During October, the time of the playoffs and the World Series, the hotel will be booked to near capacity with conventioneers, said Michael Whipple, the general manager.

The Hyatt and Stouffer Harborplace also will be packed and have no plans to offer special room rates, officials at those hotels said.

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