Rogers Centre

Last updated

Rogers Centre
SkyDome [1] [2]
Rogers Centre logo.png
Toronto - ON - Rogers Centre (Nacht).jpg
Rogers Centre at night, 2008
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Rogers Centre
Location in Toronto
Canada Ontario relief location map.jpg
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Rogers Centre
Location in Ontario
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Rogers Centre
Location in Canada
Former namesSkyDome (1989–2005)
Address1 Blue Jays Way
Location Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates 43°38′29″N79°23′21″W / 43.64139°N 79.38917°W / 43.64139; -79.38917 Coordinates: 43°38′29″N79°23′21″W / 43.64139°N 79.38917°W / 43.64139; -79.38917
Public transit GO Transit logo.svg Union Station
BSicon SUBWAY.svg TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Union subway
GO bus symbol.svg GO Bus Terminal
BSicon CLRV.svg   509   Harbourfront
BSicon CLRV.svg   510   Spadina
Owner Rogers Communications
OperatorRogers Stadium Limited Partnership
Capacity Baseball: 49,282 [3]
Canadian football: 31,074 (expandable to 52,230) [4]
American football: 54,000 [5]
Soccer: 47,568
Basketball: 22,911 (expandable to 28,708) [6]
Concerts: 10,000–55,000
Record attendance WrestleMania X8: 68,237 (March 17, 2002)
Field sizeLeft Field Line – 328 feet (100 m)
Left-Centre Power Alley – 375 feet (114 m)
Centre Field – 400 feet (122 m)
Right-Centre Power Alley – 375 feet (114 m)
Right Field Line – 328 feet (100 m)
Backstop – 60 feet (18 m)
RogersCentreDimensions.svg
Surface AstroTurf (1989–2004)
FieldTurf (2005–2010)
AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D (2010–2014)
AstroTurf 3D Xtreme (2015)
AstroTurf 3D Xtreme with dirt infield (2016–present)
Construction
Broke groundOctober 3, 1986
OpenedJune 3, 1989 (As SkyDome)
Construction cost $570 million [7] [8]
Architect Rod Robbie, Robbie Adjeleian NORR Consortium
Structural engineerAdjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd. [9]
Services engineerThe Mitchell Partnership Inc. [10]
General contractor EllisDon Construction
Tenants
Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) (1989–present)
Toronto Argonauts (CFL) (1989–2015) [11]
Toronto Raptors (NBA) (1995–1999)
Buffalo Bills (NFL) (2008–2013) (Bills Toronto Series)

Rogers Centre, originally named SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated just southwest of the CN Tower near the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Opened in 1989 on the former Railway Lands, it is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). Previously, the stadium was home to the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL) played an annual game at the stadium as part of the Bills Toronto Series from 2008 to 2013. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, travelling carnivals, and monster truck shows.

Multi-purpose stadium type of stadium

Multi-purpose stadiums are a type of stadium designed to be easily used by multiple types of events. While any stadium could potentially host more than one type of sport or event, this concept usually refers to a specific design philosophy that stresses multifunctionality over specificity. It is used most commonly in Canada and the United States, where the two most popular outdoor team sports – football and baseball – require radically different facilities. Football uses a rectangular field, while baseball is played on a diamond and large outfield. This requires a particular design to accommodate both, usually an oval. While building stadiums in this way means that sports teams and governments can share costs, it also imposes some challenges.

Downtown Toronto Neighbourhood of Toronto in Ontario, Canada

Downtown Toronto is the main central business district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Located entirely within the district of Old Toronto, it is approximately 17 square kilometers in area, bounded by Bloor Street to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, the Don Valley to the east, and Bathurst Street to the west. It is also the location of the City of Toronto government and the Government of Ontario.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the fastest growing city in North America, and is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Contents

The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications, which also owned the Toronto Blue Jays, in 2005. [1] [12] The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348-room hotel attached to it with 70 rooms overlooking the field. [13] It is also the last North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football and baseball. The stadium served as the site of both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American Games. [14] During the ceremonies, the site was referred to as the "Pan Am Dome" (officially as the "Pan Am Ceremonies Venue") instead of its official name; Rogers Communications did not have sponsorship rights to the games.

Rogers Communications Canadian telecommunications company

Rogers Communications Inc. is a Canadian communications and media company. It operates particularly in the field of wireless communications, cable television, telephone, and Internet connectivity with significant additional telecommunications and mass media assets. The company is headquartered in Toronto.

Retractable roof

A retractable roof is a roof system designed to roll back the roof on tracks so that the interior of the facility is open to the outdoors. Retractable roofs are sometimes referred to as operable roofs or retractable skylights. The term operable skylight, while quite similar, refers to a skylight that opens on a hinge, rather than on a track.

Canadian football Canadian sport in which opposing teams of twelve players attempt to score by advancing a ball by running, passing and kicking

Canadian football is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area.

History

SkyDome, called Rogers Centre since 2005, was designed by architect Rod Robbie and structural engineer Michael Allen and was constructed by the EllisDon Construction company of London, Ontario and the Dominion Bridge Company of Lachine, Quebec. The stadium's construction lasted about two and a half years, from October 1986 to May 1989. The approximate cost of construction was C$570 million [7] ($1.02 billion in 2018 dollars [15] ) which was paid for by the federal government, Ontario provincial government, the City of Toronto, and a large consortium of corporations. [16]

Rod Robbie Canadian Architect

Roderick "Rod" George Robbie, was a British-born Canadian architect and planner. He was known for his design of the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67 and Toronto's Rogers Centre (SkyDome).

EllisDon is an employee-owned construction services company that was founded and incorporated in 1951 in London, Ontario, Canada by brothers Don and David Ellis Smith. The company is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

London, Ontario City in Ontario, Canada

London is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada along the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. The city had a population of 383,822 according to the 2016 Canadian census. London is at the confluence of the Thames River, approximately 200 km (120 mi) from both Toronto and Detroit; and about 230 km (140 mi) from Buffalo, New York. The city of London is a separated municipality, politically separate from Middlesex County, though it remains the county seat.

The CN Tower viewed from the Rogers Centre Rogers Center-restitched.jpg
The CN Tower viewed from the Rogers Centre

Background

The main impetus for building an enclosed sports venue in Toronto came following the Grey Cup game in November 1982, held at the outdoor Exhibition Stadium. The game (in which the hometown Toronto Argonauts were making their first Grey Cup appearance since 1971) was played in a driving rainstorm that left most of the crowd drenched, leading the media to call it "the Rain Bowl". As many of the seats were completely exposed to the elements, thousands watched the game from the concession section. To make a bad experience even worse, the washrooms overflowed. In attendance that day was Bill Davis, the Premier of Ontario, and the poor conditions were seen by the largest TV audience in Canada (over 7,862,000 viewers) to that point. [17] The following day, at a rally for the Argos at Toronto City Hall, tens of thousands of people who attended the game began to chant, "We want a dome! We want a dome!" [18]

The 70th Grey Cup, also known as the "Rain Bowl", was the 1982 Grey Cup Canadian Football League championship game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos. The Eskimos, who were making their sixth consecutive appearance in the CFL championship game, defeated the Argonauts 32-16 on the Eskimos' way to their fifth straight Grey Cup. The game was played on Sunday, November 28, 1982, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.

Exhibition Stadium multi-purpose stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Canadian National Exhibition Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium that formerly stood on the Exhibition Place grounds, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Originally built for Canadian National Exhibition events, the stadium served as the home of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, from 1959–1988, the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball from 1977–1989, and the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League from 1979–1983. The stadium hosted the Grey Cup game 12 times over a 24-year period.

Toronto Argonauts professional football team based in Toronto, Canada

The Toronto Argonauts are a professional Canadian football team competing in the East Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Based in Toronto, Ontario, the team was founded in 1873, and is the oldest existing professional sports team in North America still using its original name, and they are the oldest-surviving team in both the modern-day CFL and East Division. The team's origins date back to a modified version of rugby football that emerged in North America in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The Argonauts played their home games at Rogers Centre from 1989 until 2016 when the team moved to BMO Field, the fifth stadium site to host the team.

Seven months later, in June 1983, Premier Davis formally announced a three-person committee would look into the feasibility of building a domed stadium at Exhibition Place. The committee consisted of Paul Godfrey, Larry Grossman and former Ontario Hydro chairman Hugh Macaulay. [19]

Exhibition Place mixed-use development

Exhibition Place is a publicly owned mixed-use district in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, located by the shoreline of Lake Ontario, just west of downtown. The 197-acre (80 ha) site includes exhibit, trade, and banquet centres, theatre and music buildings, monuments, parkland, sports facilities, and a number of civic, provincial, and national historic sites. The district's facilities are used year-round for exhibitions, trade shows, public and private functions, and sporting events.

Paul Victor Godfrey, CM, OOnt is a businessman and former Canadian politician. During his career, Godfrey was a North York alderman, Chairman of Metro Toronto, President of the Toronto Sun and head of the Toronto Blue Jays. He was instrumental in bringing the Toronto Blue Jays to Toronto and has campaigned to bring the National Football League to Toronto. He is currently President and CEO of Postmedia Network.

Lawrence Sheldon "Larry" Grossman, was a politician in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly as a Progressive Conservative from 1975 to 1987, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Bill Davis and Frank Miller. Grossman was leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives from 1985 to 1987.

The committee examined various projects, including a large indoor stadium at Exhibition Place with an air-supported dome, similar to BC Place in Vancouver. In 1985, an international design competition was launched to design a new stadium, along with selection of a site. Some of the proposed sites included Exhibition Place, Downsview Airport, and York University. The final site was at the base of the CN Tower not far from Union Station, a major railway and transit hub. The Railway Lands were a major Canadian National Railway rail switching yard encompassing the CNR Spadina Roundhouse (the desolate downtown lands were part of a master plan for revitalizing the area, which includes CityPlace). Ultimately, the Robbie/Allen concept won because it provided the largest roof opening of all the finalists, and it was the most technically sound.

BC Place stadium at Vancouver, Canada

BC Place is a multi-purpose stadium located at the north side of False Creek, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is owned and operated by the BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), a crown corporation of the province. It is currently the home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL), Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the annual Canada Sevens as well as the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The stadium also served as the main stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Paralympics which Vancouver hosted, as well as a venue for multiple matches including the championship match for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Downsview Airport airport

Downsview Airport or Toronto/Downsview Airport is located in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. An air field, then air force base, it has been a testing facility for Bombardier Aerospace since 1994. Bombardier has sold the facility and manufacturing plant and its future is uncertain.

York University University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

York University is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest university, and it has approximately 52,300 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and 295,000 alumni worldwide. It has eleven faculties, including the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Faculty of Science, Lassonde School of Engineering, Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, and 28 research centres. The Keele campus is also home to a satellite location of Seneca College.

Naming

The name "SkyDome" was chosen as part of a province-wide "name the stadium" contest in 1987. Sponsored by the Toronto Sun , ballots were offered for people to submit their suggested name, with lifetime seats behind home plate to all events at the stadium (including concerts) as the prize. Over 150,000 entries were received with 12,897 different names. The selection committee narrowed it down to four choices: "Towerdome", "Harbourdome", "SkyDome", and simply "the Dome". The judges' final selection was SkyDome. Premier David Peterson drew the prize-winning entry of Kellie Watson from a lottery barrel containing the over-2,000 entries that proposed "SkyDome". At the press conference announcing the name, Chuck Magwood, president of the Stadium Corporation of Ontario (Stadco), the crown corporation created to run SkyDome, [20] commented: "The sky is a huge part of the whole roof process. The name has a sense of the infinite and that's what this is all about." Kellie Watson received lifetime seating of choice at the SkyDome, which is still honoured after the stadium renamed to Rogers Centre.

Financing

The stadium was funded by a public/private partnership, with the government paying the largest percentage of the tab. The initial cost of $150 million was greatly underestimated, [21] with the final tab coming in at C$570 million ($1.02 billion in 2018 dollars [15] ). [7] Two levels of government (Metro Toronto and Provincial) each initially contributed $30 million ($53.5 million in 2018 dollars [15] ). [7] [21] [22] This does not include the actual value of the land the stadium sits on (as it was part of a deal with the Crown agency – CN Rail). Canada's three main breweries (Labatt's, Molson, and Carling O'Keefe) and the Toronto Blue Jays each paid $5 million ($8.92 million in 2018 dollars [15] ) to help fund the stadium. [22] An additional 26 other Canadian corporations (selected by invitation only) also contributed $5 million, [22] for which they received one of the 161 Skyboxes with four parking spaces (for ten years, with an opportunity for renewal) and a 99-year exclusive option on stadium advertising. Skyboxes initially leased for $150,000 up to $225,000 ($268 thousand to $401 thousand in 2018 dollars [15] ) a year in 1989 – plus the cost of tickets for all events.

The then unusual financing structure created controversy. First of all, there was no public tender for supplies and equipment. Secondly, companies that paid the $5 million fee, such as Coca-Cola, TSN and CIBC, received 100% stadium exclusivity, [7] including advertising rights, for the life of their contract that could be extended up to 99 years. Third, the contracts were not put up for bid, meaning there was some doubt the contracts were made at a market rate: Pepsi stated at the time that had they known the terms of the contract they would have paid far more than $5 million for the rights. Local media like NOW Magazine called the amount charged to the companies "scandalously low". [23]

Construction

A cable-stayed bridge was built over the Union Station Rail Corridor next to the stadium. Suspension bridge over railway tracks SkyDomeRogersCentre.JPG
A cable-stayed bridge was built over the Union Station Rail Corridor next to the stadium.

Construction was done by lead contractor EllisDon. Several factors complicated the construction: The lands housed a functioning water pumping station that needed to be relocated, the soil was contaminated from a century of industrial use, railway buildings needed to be torn down or moved, and the site was rich with archaeological finds. One of the most complex issues was moving the John Street pumping station across the street to its new home south of the stadium. Foundations to the stadium were being poured even as the facility (in the infield area) continued to function, as construction on its new location had yet to be completed.

Because the stadium was the first of its kind in the world, the architects and engineers kept the design simple (by using a sturdy dome shape) and used proven technologies to move the roof. It was important the design would work and be reliable as to avoid the various problems that plagued Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The 31-storey high roof consists of four panels; one (on the north end) is fixed in place and the other three are moved by electrically driven 'train' engines, that run on high strength railway rails. The roof, which takes 20 minutes to open, was made out of steel trusses covered by corrugated steel cladding, which in turn is covered by a single-ply PVC membrane.

Because of its location south of the major railway corridor, new pedestrian connections had to be built; the infrastructure was part of the reason for the high cost of the stadium. The SkyWalk is an approximately 500-metre (1,600 ft) enclosed walkway that leads from the base of the CN Tower and via a bridge connects to Union Station (and is part of the PATH network). The John Street cable-stayed bridge was built to provide north–south passage over the rail tracks, linking Front Street with the stadium.

Construction at the site, which at one time was south of the shoreline, unearthed over 1,500 artifacts. These included a 200-year-old French cannon used as ballast for a ship, cannonballs, pottery and a telescope. [24] The stadium was completed two months late, having been planned to open for the first regular season Toronto Blue Jays game in 1989; the team played the first two months of their home schedule at Exhibition Stadium that year.

Opening

The Audience by Michael Snow on the northwest corner facade The audience.JPG
The Audience by Michael Snow on the northwest corner façade

The stadium officially opened on June 3, 1989, and hosted an official grand opening show: "The Opening of SkyDome: A Celebration", broadcast on CBC television the following evening hosted by Brian Williams. With a crowd of over 50,000 in attendance, the event included appearances by Alan Thicke, Oscar Peterson, Andrea Martin of SCTV, impersonator André-Philippe Gagnon and rock band Glass Tiger. The roof was ceremonially "opened" by Ontario Premier David Peterson with a laser pen. The roof's opening exposed the crowd to a downpour of rain. Despite audible chants of "close the roof", Magwood insisted the roof remain fully open.

Financial problems and fallout

SkyDome logo (1989-2005) SkyDomeLogo.png
SkyDome logo (1989–2005)

The stadium became a thorn in the side of David Peterson's Ontario Liberal government for repeated cost overruns. After the Liberals were defeated by the NDP in the 1990 Ontario election, a review by the new Bob Rae government in October 1990 revealed Stadco's debt meant the Dome would have to be booked 600 days a year to turn a profit, almost twice as many days as there are days in a calendar year. The stadium income was only $17 million in its first year of operations, while debt service was $40 million. It was determined the abrupt late inclusion by Stadco of a hotel and health club added an additional $112 million to the cost of the building.

As the province slipped into a recession, Rae appointed University of Toronto professor Bruce Kidd and Canadian Auto Workers President Bob White to the Stadco board to help deal with the stadium's growing debt, but the original $165 million debt had ballooned to $400 million by 1993. [7] [21] Stadco became a political liability, and in March 1994, the Ontario government paid off all outstanding Stadco debts from the government treasury and sold the stadium for $151 million to a private consortium that included Labatt Breweries, the Blue Jays' owner. [21] [25]

In November 1998, the stadium, which Labatt then owned as 49% of total, filed for bankruptcy protection, [26] triggered after disastrous Skybox renewal numbers. Most of the 161 Skybox tenants had signed on for 10-year leases; a marked decrease in interest in the stadium's teams and the construction of the Air Canada Centre, which hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, resulted in few renewals for Skybox leases. That same month, the Blue Jays re-signed for an additional ten years in the facility. [21]

In April 1999, Sportsco International LP bought the stadium out of bankruptcy protection for $80 million. [25]

Purchase and renaming

View from Bremner Boulevard Rogers Centre. View from Bremner Blvd.jpg
View from Bremner Boulevard

In November 2004, Rogers Communications, parent company of the Blue Jays, acquired SkyDome, excluding the attached SkyDome hotel, which had been sold to Renaissance for a reported $31 million in 1999, from Sportsco for about $25 million – roughly 4% of the cost of construction. [25]

On February 2, 2005, Ted Rogers, President and CEO of Rogers Communications, announced a three-year corporate contract to change the name of SkyDome to Rogers Centre. The name change remains controversial and is unpopular with many fans, most of whom continue to refer to it as SkyDome in opposition to increased commercialism from the purchase of naming rights. One example is a 25,000 name petition started by TTC bus driver Randy Rajmoolie. [27]

After the purchase Rogers refurbished the stadium by, among other things, replacing the Jumbotron with a Daktronics video display, and erecting other new monitors, including several built into the outfield wall. They also installed a new FieldTurf artificial playing surface. [28]

In May 2005, the Toronto Argonauts agreed to three five-year leases at Rogers Centre, which could have seen the Argonauts play out of Rogers Centre up to and including 2019. The team had the option to leave at the end of each of the three lease agreements. [29] Purposed plans to lock Rogers Centre into its baseball configuration permanently in order to install a natural grass surface forced the Argonauts to relocate to BMO Field before the 2016 season. [30] [31] [32] However, it is now unclear whether the planned surface replacement and configuration change will take place, if at all, despite the Argonauts' departure.

In November 2005, Rogers Centre received a complete makeover to "open" the 100 Level concourse to the playing field and convert 43 luxury boxes to "party suites". This required some seats to be removed, which lowered overall capacity. [33]

In April 2006, Rogers Centre became one of the first buildings of its size to adopt a completely smoke-free policy in Canada, anticipating an act of provincial legislature that required all Ontario public places to go smoke-free by June 1, 2006.

Alcohol was not available to patrons of Rogers Centre on April 7, 2009, as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario imposed the first of a three-day alcohol suspension at the stadium for "infractions (that) took place at certain past events", according to the press release. [34]

Improvements

Significant improvements to the facility since opening in 1989 include:

Stadium features

Several restaurants have views of events. The former Windows restaurant looked onto the playing field. Windows Restaurant in SkyDomeRogersCentre.JPG
Several restaurants have views of events. The former Windows restaurant looked onto the playing field.

The venue was the first major team sports stadium in North America with a functional, fully retractable roof (Montreal's Olympic Stadium also had a retractable roof, but due to operational issues, it was replaced with a permanent roof). The roof is composed of four panels and covers an area of 345,000 square feet (32,100 m2). The two middle panels slide laterally to stack over the north semi-circular panel, and then the south semi-circular panel rotates around the stadium and nests inside the stack. It takes 20 minutes for the roof to open or close. [44] It is not possible to move the roof in cold weather because the mechanism that closes the roof could fail in cooler weather. [45]

The original AstroTurf installation was replaced with FieldTurf from 2005 to 2010. The FieldTurf took about 40 hours to remove for events such as concerts or trade shows, as it used 1,400 trays that needed to be stacked and transported off the field. Prior to the 2010 baseball season, to reduce the amount of time required to convert the playing field, a new, roll-based version of AstroTurf was installed. Similar to FieldTurf, the installation uses a sand and rubber-based infill within the synthetic fibres. [46] Rogers Centre is one of three venues in Major League Baseball using artificial turf (the other two are Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Rays and Chase Field [47] in Phoenix, Arizona) and was the last venue to use "sliding pits" before switching to a full dirt infield for the 2016 baseball season. Before the Argonauts moved out, the pitcher's mound could be lowered or raised hydraulically when converting from baseball to football (or vice versa). [48]

The use of natural grass was long thought unfeasible since the stadium was designed as a closed structure with a roof that opens, and as such, the interior was not intended or built to deal with weather, including low temperatures and drainage. As of the 2016 season, they are one of two teams to have never played a home game on grass at their main stadium (the Tampa Bay Rays played some home games in 2007 and 2008 at Champion Stadium in Walt Disney World). [49] [50] [51] However, the Blue Jays have long explored the possibility of converting the Rogers Centre to a natural grass surface, and plans are in place to install a grass field by 2018 to allow enough time for research and growing of the sod. [52] Installing grass would require digging up the floor, adding a drainage system, and installing 30 cm (1 ft) of dirt. The stadium would need to be permanently locked into its baseball configuration; the lower stands, which roll into position for football, would be permanently fixed in position for baseball. [53] [54] [55] The plan became more definite when Rogers renewed the Argonauts' lease through 2017, but ruled out any further extensions; in May 2015, it was announced the Argos would move to BMO Field for the 2016 season. [30] [31] [32] The Blue Jays subsequently confirmed the Argonauts' early departure would not accelerate their own plans to install grass in 2018, [56] though it did allow for a dirt infield to be installed for the 2016 season. [57] However, it does not appear likely the field will be converted to natural grass, as no further announcements for replacing the surface have been made since, and the field continues to retain its artificial surface. [58]

There are a total of 5,700 club seats and 161 luxury suites at the Rogers Centre. The complex had a Hard Rock Café restaurant until December 2009 when the restaurant closed after its lease expired. [59] The Renaissance Toronto Hotel is also within Rogers Centre, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. [60]

Over $5 million of artwork was commissioned in 1989 ($8.9 million in 2018 dollars):

Seating capacity

Baseball
YearsCapacity
1989–199850,516 [62]
1999–200245,100 [62]
2003–200450,516 [62]
2005–200650,598 [62]
200748,900 [63]
2008–201049,539 [64]
2011–201249,260 [65]
2013–present49,282 [3] [66]
Football
Capacity
53,506 [67]

Rogers Centre video board

Rogers Centre video board Rogers Centre video board.JPG
Rogers Centre video board

The Rogers Centre video board is 33 feet (10 m) high and 110 feet (34 m) across. The panel is made up of modular LED units that can be replaced unit by unit, and can be repaired immediately should it be damaged during an event. Originally, this screen was a Sony Jumbotron, which was, at the time the stadium opened, the largest in North America, [68] but since has been replaced. There are also two ribbon boards made up of LED that run along the East and West sides of the stadium interior. They are each 434 feet (132 m) long by 3.5 feet (1.1 m) high. In addition, there are two video boards that make up parts of the left and right outfield walls while in baseball configuration. These are 65 feet (20 m) wide by nearly 10 feet (3.0 m) high.

The video board and the stadium played host to several serial television events, including the series finales for Cheers and Star Trek: The Next Generation , along with live coverage of the funeral of Princess Diana.

Stadium usage

Baseball

The 1992 World Series and 1993 World Series were played at the SkyDome. The stadium also hosted the 1991 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The 1991 American League Championship Series was the first Major League Baseball playoff series played entirely indoors with the first two games at the Metrodome in Minneapolis and the final three at the SkyDome.

Games in the first round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic were played at the Rogers Centre. [69]

Basketball

Besides baseball, Rogers Centre was the original home of the National Basketball Association's Toronto Raptors, who played at the venue from November 1995 to February 1999, while the Air Canada Centre (later renamed Scotiabank Arena) was being planned and built. It proved to be somewhat problematic as a basketball venue, even considering it was only a temporary facility. For instance, many seats that were theoretically in line with the court were so far away fans needed binoculars to see the action. Other seats were so badly obstructed that fans sitting there could only watch the game on the replay boards. For most games, Rogers Centre seated 22,900 people. However, the Raptors sometimes opened the 500 Level, which is the stadium's uppermost level, when popular opponents came to town, such as the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was a member of the team, expanding capacity to 29,000 and at one point, held over 36,000 attendees.

Football

Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats, October 27, 2005 Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Rogers Centre, October 27 2005.jpg
Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats, October 27, 2005

Rogers Centre hosted Canadian football from opening in 1989 to 2015, as the Argonauts moved to BMO Field in 2016. In November 2007, it hosted the 95th Grey Cup, its first since 1992 and third all-time. It was the 56th Grey Cup hosted by the city of Toronto since the championship's inception in 1909.

From 1989 to 2003, SkyDome hosted the Vanier Cup championship of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (later renamed U Sports in 2016) football.

In 1994, then-part owner of SkyDome Labatt considered purchasing a National Football League and a Major League Soccer team to play at the stadium. [70]

In January 2007, Rogers Centre played host to the first International Bowl, an NCAA college football game between the Western Michigan University Broncos and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. In 2008, Rutgers played Ball State in the second International Bowl. The University at Buffalo Bulls and the University of Connecticut Huskies played in the third International Bowl on January 3, 2009.

Rogers Centre was also the venue for the 43rd Vanier Cup on Friday November 23, just two days before Grey Cup Sunday. It was the 16th Vanier Cup hosted at the venue, returning after a three-year absence in which it was hosted by Hamilton, Ontario (2004 and 2005) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (2006). It was the 40th Vanier Cup hosted by Toronto since that championship's inception in 1965.

The National Football League's Buffalo Bills announced its intentions to play five "home" games (and three pre-season games) in Rogers Centre in October 2007, so beginning the Bills Toronto Series; the first of these regular-season games took place on December 7 of the 2008 NFL season versus the Miami Dolphins. [71] It marked the first time an NFL team has established a "home" stadium outside the United States. The Bills played a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Rogers Centre on August 14, 2008; the Toronto Series was played every year through the 2013 season.

Soccer

From the mid-2000s, soccer matches have been regularly held in SkyDome/Rogers Centre; they had been rarely played at the venue when its AstroTurf surface had been in place. [72]

On June 8, 2005 an international soccer friendly between Serbia and Italy took place, ending in a 1–1 draw. [72]

On May 25, 2010, the stadium hosted a friendly soccer match between Italy's ACF Fiorentina and Juventus F.C. with Fiorentina winning 1–0. [73]

On July 16, 2010, the stadium hosted a friendly soccer match between England's Manchester United F.C. and Scotland's Celtic F.C. Manchester United F.C. defeated Celtic F.C. with a score of 3–1. The match was played on a temporary grass surface harvested from Burford, Ontario and transported via 18 tractor-trailers. [74]

On July 21, 2012, the stadium hosted the friendly between Toronto FC and Liverpool F.C., a match that finished in a 1–1 draw.

DateWinning TeamResultLosing TeamTournamentSpectators
January 24, 1995Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark League XI 1–0Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada SkyDome Cup 10,024 [75]
January 26, 1995Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 1–1Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 13,658 [76]
January 29, 1995Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1–0Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark League XI 23,723 [77]
July 30, 2004 Flag of Portugal.svg FC Porto 1–0 Flag of England.svg Liverpool F.C. Club Friendly40,078 [78]
July 31, 2004 Flag of Italy (2003-2006).svg A.S. Roma 1–0 Flag of Scotland.svg Celtic F.C. Club Friendly50,168 [79]
June 8, 2005Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (1992-2006).svg  Serbia and Montenegro 1–1Flag of Italy (2003-2006).svg  Italy International Friendly22,138 [80]
May 25, 2010 Flag of Italy.svg ACF Fiorentina 1–0 Flag of Italy.svg Juventus F.C. Club Friendly21,122 [73]
July 16, 2010 Flag of England.svg Manchester United F.C. 3–1 Flag of Scotland.svg Celtic F.C. Club Friendly39,193 [74]
March 7, 2012 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Toronto FC 2–2 Flag of the United States.svg Los Angeles Galaxy CONCACAF Champions League 47,658 [81]
July 21, 2012 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Toronto FC 1–1 Flag of England.svg Liverpool F.C. Club Friendly33,087 [82]

Other sports

Rogers Centre has also hosted exhibition cricket, gaelic football, hurling, Australian rules football and tennis.

It hosted the 1993 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

On May 31, 1997, the venue hosted a post-Olympic track and field event that pitted Olympic track champions Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson, in a 150 m race billed as a competition for the title of the "World's Fastest Man". Bailey won the race, completing it in a time of 15 seconds and winning the $1.5 million prize. Johnson pulled up lame at the 110 m mark claiming a quadriceps injury.

Rogers Centre is the site of several major high school and collegiate sporting competitions, such as the Prentice Cup for baseball. Since 2008, the Rogers Centre is the host of the Greater Toronto high schools' Metro Bowl. [83]

It hosted a round of the AMA Supercross Championship from 2008 to 2014 [84] and returned for 2016 and 2017. Monster Jam hosts an annual event in the month of January.

On April 30, 2011, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hosted their first event in Ontario's history, UFC 129. Originally set up for 42,000 seats, the event sold out on the first day of ticket sales. Changes were made to accommodate another 13,000 seats. Fans responded bringing the total seat sales to 55,000 — breaking previous UFC records.

For the 2015 Pan American Games, the Rogers Centre was used for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Professional wrestling

The World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) staged WrestleMania VI and WrestleMania X8 at Rogers Centre in 1990 and 2002. As well, the WWF/WWE held its largest crowd for Monday Night Raw on February 13, 1999, when 41,432 attended a special edition of Raw called Raw Saturday Night. Wrestlemania VI held on April 1, 1990, with the main event being a title vs title match which saw the WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior defeat the WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, set the SkyDome attendance record of 67,678. The attendance record was broken when 68,237 attended Wrestlemania X8 on March 17, 2002. [85]

Concerts

The stadium has several concert configurations, including smaller Theatre (capacity 5,000 to 7,000) and Concert Hall (formerly SkyTent; capacity 10,000 to 25,000). [86] Due to the stadium's design and building materials, the acoustics are poor, and the loudness/quality can vary greatly around the stadium. Its popularity with artists and fans has diminished over the years, and the Scotiabank Arena now hosts most major concerts. The SkyTent, a group of acoustical curtain sails hoisted on rigging above the floor, helps reduce sound distortion and improve sound quality by dampening reverberations around the stadium. [87]

Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large-scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto. [88] Artists have included Bruce Springsteen, U2 with two concerts in 2009, as well as their concert in 2011, all part of their 360° Tour. [89] [90] [91] Bon Jovi performed two sellout shows on July 20 and 21, 2010, at Rogers Centre as part of The Circle Tour. [92]

The Rolling Stones played two sold-out concerts at the stadium: on December 4, 1989, during the Steel Wheels Tour and on September 26, 2005, during their highest-grossing tour A Bigger Bang Tour. Rogers Centre has been a venue for large electronic dance music events. During 2013, notable events included two back to back sold-out shows on Swedish House Mafia's farewell tour, One Last Tour and Sensation's first Canadian event. One of the more notable concerts, as shown in the documentary Truth or Dare , was Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour show. [93] The touring show had become extremely controversial, due to the risqué visuals and performances. When the concert arrived in Toronto, police were alerted the show might violate local obscenity laws. The police were on site for the concert and threatened charges without changes. The show went on as planned, however, without any legal action taken. Later, she performed two concerts at the stadium again during The Girlie Show World Tour in 1993. Bruce Springsteen performed on August 24, 2012, during his Wrecking Ball World Tour in front of 39,000 people.

Guns N' Roses performed at Rogers Centre on July 16, 2016, during their Not in This Lifetime... Tour in front of 48,016 people with Billy Talent. [94] Metallica also played a sold-out show at the stadium as part of their WorldWired Tour on July 16, 2017, with special guests Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat. [95]

Other uses

Rogers Centre contains 143,000 sq ft (13,300 m2) of exhibition space, allowing it to host a variety of events year-round.

Disney on Ice and circuses have used the venue.

It is home to several annual auto shows, with the Canadian International AutoShow in February and Importfest in October.

The Opening Ceremonies of the XVI International AIDS Conference were held at Rogers Centre on August 13, 2006. [96]

It has also hosted many public speakers, including appearances by the Dalai Lama, Christian evangelist Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, and J. K. Rowling, for a book reading. [97]

In addition to being a venue that hosts sports, concerts and other events, the Rogers Centre also houses the head offices of a number of businesses. The Toronto Blue Jays have its office headquarters in the building and until 2008, the Toronto Argonauts did as well. It is also the home of the head offices of Ticketmaster Canada and Zuffa Canada, the former also having the main Ticketmaster outlet (ticket centre) for eastern Canada, at the south end of the building beside Gate 9. [98] [99] [100]

In addition, the building contains the Toronto Renaissance Hotel, a Premier Fitness/Health Club, a Rogers Plus store, (formerly) a Hard Rock Cafe, and Windows Restaurant. Starting in 2006, the Hard Rock Cafe only opened when there was a performance in the building, and closed altogether in 2009. [59] On non-event days, there are daily tours of the Rogers Centre.

Attendance records

Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays in the SkyDome on July 19, 1999. Braves-Jays1999.jpg
Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays in the SkyDome on July 19, 1999.

Timeline

Skydome Rogers Center Toronto Canada.jpg
Panoramic view of Blue Jays game with open roof
Argospanorama.jpg
The Toronto Argonauts hosting the Montreal Alouettes at Rogers Centre, home of the 100th Grey Cup

Facts and figures

Left: Rogers Centre with roof closed
Right: Rogers Centre with roof opened Rogers Centre open and closed.jpg
Left: Rogers Centre with roof closed
Right: Rogers Centre with roof opened
Evening baseball game from above Rogers Centre May 2011.jpg
Evening baseball game from above

Baseball firsts

Opening Day (June 5, 1989) [112]

StatisticDetails
Score Milwaukee Brewers 5, Toronto Blue Jays 3
Umpires Rocky Roe (home)
Mike Reilly (first base)
Rich Garcia (second base)
Dale Scott (third base)
Managers Cito Gaston (Blue Jays)
Tom Trebelhorn (Brewers)
Starting pitchers Jimmy Key (Blue Jays)
Don August (Brewers)
Attendance48,378 [112]

Batting

StatisticDetails
Batter Paul Molitor, Brewers [112]
Blue Jays Batter Junior Félix
Hit Paul Molitor, Brewers (double) [112]
Run Paul Molitor, Brewers
Blue Jays Run George Bell
RBI Gary Sheffield, Brewers
Blue Jays RBI Fred McGriff
Single Kelly Gruber, Blue Jays
Double Paul Molitor, Brewers
Triple Jay Buhner, Mariners (June 18, 1989) [112]
Home run Fred McGriff, Blue Jays (June 5, 1989)
Grand slam Terry Steinbach, Athletics (July 16, 1989) [112]
Blue Jays grand slam Glenallen Hill (September 1, 1989)
Inside-the-park home run Rance Mulliniks, Blue Jays (July 11, 1991) [112]
Stolen base Fred McGriff, Blue Jays (June 5, 1989)
Sacrifice hit Robin Yount, Brewers (June 5, 1989)
Sacrifice fly Robin Yount, Brewers (June 5, 1989)
Cycle George Brett, Royals (July 25, 1990) [112]
Blue Jays cycle Jeff Frye (August 17, 2001)

Pitching

StatisticDetails
Win Don August
Blue Jays Win John Cerutti (June 7, 1989)
Loss Jimmy Key
Opposing Loss Chris Bosio, Brewers (June 7, 1989)
Shutout Bert Blyleven, Angels (July 18, 1989)
Blue Jays Shutout John Cerutti (August 2, 1989)
Save Dan Plesac, Brewers (June 5, 1989)
Blue Jays Save David Wells (June 9, 1989)
Hit by pitch Tony Fossas hit Lloyd Moseby, Brewers (June 7, 1989) [112]
Wild pitch Jimmy Key, Blue Jays (June 5, 1989) [113]
Balk Tony Fossas, Brewers (June 7, 1989) [112]
No-hitter Dave Stewart, Athletics (June 29, 1990) [112]
The field level seating rotates on tracks to reconfigure for football and baseball. Skydome seats rotate.jpg
The field level seating rotates on tracks to reconfigure for football and baseball.

See also

Related Research Articles

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2015 Toronto Argonauts season

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