Exhibition Grounds, Toronto — 1977 to June 1989.
Originally built in 1959 for football and then modified in 1975-76 for baseball. It was first called the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium. The Blue Jays played there from April 7, 1977 to May 28, 1989.
Exhibition Stadium was problematic for hosting baseball. Like most multi-purpose stadiums, the lower boxes were set further back than comparable seats at baseball-only stadiums. This was magnified by the fact that Canadian football fields are 30 yards longer, and considerably wider, than American football fields. Additionally, it was not a true multi-purpose stadium, but a football stadium that could convert into a baseball stadium. Due to the vaguely horseshoe-shape of the stadium after it was expanded for the Blue Jays, many of the seats down the right field line and in right-centre were extremely far from the infield; they actually faced each other rather than the action. In fact, some seats were as far as 820 feet from home plate — the farthest such distance of any stadium ever used as a principal home field in the majors. Over 10,000 seats in centre field and down the right-field line were so far from the playing field (and did not even directly face the baseball diamond) that the Blue Jays did not even offer them for sale during the regular season.
The outfield seats were the only seats that offered protection from the elements. Ironically, they were the cheapest seats.
Relatively close to Lake Ontario, the stadium was often quite cold at the beginning and end of the season. The first Blue Jays game played there on April 7, 1977 was the only major league game ever played with the field covered entirely by snow. The Blue Jays had to borrow Maple Leaf Gardens’ Zamboni to clear off the field. Conditions at the stadium led to another odd incident that first year. On September 15, Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver pulled his team off the field because he felt the bricks holding down the bullpen tarps were a hazard to his players. This garnered a win by forfeit for the Jays. It remains the last time in major league baseball history — and the only time since 1914 — that a team deliberately forfeited a game (as opposed to having an umpire call a forfeiture due to unruly fan behaviour).
An April 30, 1984 game against the Texas Rangers was postponed due to 60 mph winds. Prior to the game, Ranger manager Doug Rader named Jim Bibby as his starting pitcher, stating that “he’s the heaviest man in the world, and thus will be unaffected by the wind.” However, Bibby would never make it to the mound. Two Rangers batters complained about dirt swirling in their eyes, and Blue Jays starting pitcher Jim Clancy was blown off balance several times. The umpires stopped the game after only six pitches. After a 30-minute delay, the game was called off.
The stadium also occasionally had problems with fog, once causing a bizarre inside-the-park home run for Kelly Gruber, when an otherwise routine pop up was lost by the outfielders in the thick fog.
Now known as Rogers Centre, this world class entertainment facility has been home to the Toronto Blue Jays since June 5, 1989. The stadium is best known for the retractable roof which is one of many innovations that can be found in a stadium that was ahead of its time. SkyDome was renamed Rogers Centre on February 2, 2005 which marks the first day the Blue Jays had full control of their facility.
At conception, the building took an innovative approach to financing, construction and design. Until 1994, it had been owned by The Stadium Corporation of Ontario, a consortium comprised of both public and private funds. The Province of Ontario and the Municipality of Toronto each contributed 30 million dollars. Joining these two levels of government were 30 Canadian corporations including the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club. Each private company contributed 5 million dollars in exchange for preferred supplier status and a SkyBox. Rogers Centre was previously owned by Sportsco International, L.P. (April 1999), the principals of which were Alan Cohen and Harvey Walken. The final construction cost of SkyDome exceeded 500 million dollars.
Architects Rod Robbie and Michael Allen designed the building and had patented its retractable roof system. Preparation of the site began in April 1986, with groundbreaking taking place in October of that same year. The last exterior concrete was poured in November of 1988 and the first test of the moveable roof panels took place in January 1989. More than 10,000 person-years of employment were created by the construction of Rogers Centre.
Rogers Centre Seat Map