formerly SkyDomeTenants: Toronto Blue Jays (AL); Toronto Argonauts (CFL; 1989-2004)
Opened: June 5, 1989
Style: Retractable Dome
Surface: AstroGrass (1989); FieldTurf (2005)
Capacity: 50,516 (baseball); 53,000 (football)
Architect: Rod Robbie (Toronto) and Michael Allen (Ottawa)
Toronto Blue Jays tickets:
Location: Center field (N), Front Street West; third base (W), Spadina Avenue; home plate (S), Gardiner Expressway; first base (E), John Street and CN Tower, the world’s tallest freestanding structure.
Dimensions: Foul lines: 328 ft.; power alleys: 375 ft.; center field: 400 ft.; backstop: 60 ft.
Fences: 10 ft.
Construction on the Rogers Centre started in April 1986, and the Blue Jays played their first game there three years later. In addition to baseball, the Rogers Centre hosts the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, concerts, and a plethora of other sporting events. Because the movable lower stands are on rollers, and the Astroturf field rolls up, conversion from baseball to football takes only 10-12 hours. Opening or closing the roof takes only 20 minutes. The roof was closed during a game twice in the Blue Jays’ first year in the dome, and four or five times a year since then.
Blue Jays management decides whether it will be open or closed for regular-season games. In the postseason, however, the American League dictated that the roof stay closed for each of the playoff and World Series games played at the Rogers Centre. Opening the roof requires that two panels slide over each other and into a section behind center field. A third panel, which starts behind the plate, rotates on a circular rail. The whole roof is 339,343 square feet and weighs 11,000 tons. When closed, the Rogers Centre could hold a 31-story building, making it almost twice as high above the field as Minnesota’s Metrodome.
Rogers Centre cost $500 million to build, financed by government and private industry. The Ontario provincial and Toronto city governments contributed $30 million each and 30 Canadian corporations paid $5 million each. Canada’s three major breweries also contributed $5 million each. The contributing corporations each received one of the stadium’s 161 skyboxes, which normally cost between $150,000 and $225,000 a year. They occupy the third and fourth levels of the five-level stadium,as do some of the Rogers Centre’s other famous features. A 650-seat restaurant rises above the center-field fence, and a 300-foot-long bar, sits atop that. The Hard Rock Cafe features some tables with a view of the field, as well.
The ownership of the Rogers Centre, then known as SkyDome, filed for bankruptcy protection in November 1998, the same month in which the Blue Jays signed a new ten-year lease to play in the stadium. Sportsco International LP bought the stadium out of bankruptcy for $85 million (Canadian). In February 2005, Rogers Communications, the owner of the Blue Jays, bought the stadium for $25 million (Canadian).
Rogers Centre Trivia:
More on the Rogers Centre:
Recommended Reading (bibliography):
Toronto Blue Jays
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Aerial view of the Rogers Centre, CN Tower and Toronto by Munsey & Suppes.
Updated April 2005
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Thanks to David O'Connor for his contributions.
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