Varsity Stadium

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Varsity Stadium
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Varsity Stadium
Location in Toronto
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Varsity Stadium
Location in Ontario
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Varsity Stadium
Location in Canada
Address 299 Bloor Street West
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates 43°40′00″N79°23′50″W / 43.6667°N 79.3972°W / 43.6667; -79.3972 Coordinates: 43°40′00″N79°23′50″W / 43.6667°N 79.3972°W / 43.6667; -79.3972
Public transit TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg TTC - Line 2 - Bloor-Danforth line.svg St. George
Owner University of Toronto
OperatorUniversity of Toronto
Capacity 500 (1898–1910)
10,500 (1911–23)
16,000 (1924–49)
21,739 (1950–2001)
1,500 (2003–05)
5,000 (2007–present)
Surfacegrass (1898–2005)
Polytan Ligaturf (2006–present)
Opened1898 (athletic grounds)
1911 (first stadium)
2007 (present stadium)
Expanded1924, 1950
Demolished2002 (first stadium)
Construction cost$61.7 million
Architect Craig and Madill (1929–1930)
Diamond+Schmitt Architects (2007)
Toronto Varsity Blues (U Sports) (1898–present)
Toronto Argonauts (IRFU/CFL) (1898–1907, 1916–1958)
Vanier Cup (1965–72, 1976–88)
Toronto Rifles (ConFL) (1966–1967)
Toronto City (USA) (1967)
Toronto Falcons (NPSL/NASL) (1967–68)
Toronto Metros-Croatia (NASL) (1975–78)
Toronto Blizzard (NASL/APSL) (1984, 1993)
Toronto Lynx (USL) (1997–2001)
Toronto Rush (AUDL) (2013–2017, 2019–present)
North Toronto Nitros (L1O) (2016–2018)

Varsity Stadium is an outdoor collegiate football stadium located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is home to the Toronto Varsity Blues, the athletic teams of the University of Toronto. Athletic events have been hosted on the site since 1898; the current stadium was built in 2007 to replace the original permanent stadium built in 1911. Varsity Stadium is also a former home of the Toronto Argonauts, and has previously hosted the Grey Cup, the Vanier Cup, several matches of the 1976 Summer Olympics soccer tournament, and the final game of the North American Soccer League's 1984 Soccer Bowl series (which was also the last game played by the original NASL). It is located next to Varsity Arena.



Athletic teams of the University of Toronto have used the site as an athletic ground since 1898. In 1911, the university opened Varsity Stadium.

First stadium

Canadian sprinter Percy Williams set a world record in the 100 metres with a time of 10.3 seconds at Varsity Stadium during the Canadian Track and Field Championships in 1930. [1]

A game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Ottawa Rough Riders at the old Varsity Stadium, November 1924. Argos v Rough Riders 1924.jpg
A game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Ottawa Rough Riders at the old Varsity Stadium, November 1924.

Varsity Stadium has for its entire history been host to the University of Toronto's collegiate Canadian football team, the Varsity Blues. However it was, until the opening of Exhibition Stadium in 1959, the home of the Toronto Argonauts of what would become the Canadian Football League. Although it has not hosted a meaningful CFL game in almost half a century, it still holds the record for the number of times any stadium has hosted the Canadian professional football championship game, the Grey Cup. Capacity of the stadium has varied with time, but peaked at about 22,000 in the 1950s although, with the use of temporary bleachers, a record crowd of 27,425 watched the Edmonton Eskimos defeat the Montreal Alouettes 50–27 in the 1956 Grey Cup final. Perhaps the most famous Canadian football game played in the Stadium was the 1950 Mud Bowl for the Grey Cup championship.

During the 1976 Summer Olympics, Varsity Stadium hosted several soccer matches, and was the site of the semi-final game between Brazil and Poland. [2] [3]

The NASL's Toronto Metros-Croatia used Varsity Stadium through 1978, before moving to Exhibition Stadium. [4] They returned six years later as the Toronto Blizzard and again made it their home for the 1984 season. [5] On October 3, 1984, before 16,842 fans, the last game ever contested in the original North American Soccer League was played at Varsity Stadium when the Chicago Sting defeated the Blizzard 3–2 to win the deciding game of 1984 Soccer Bowl Series. The NASL would fold before the start of the next season.

In mid-1986, Varsity Stadium played host to the World Lacrosse Championships, a tournament featuring the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. The US defeated Canada in the final, 18–9.

The new Toronto Blizzard returned to Varsity in 1987 as part of the Canadian Soccer League but would move to the smaller Centennial Park Stadium as a cost-cutting move. They returned in 1993 as a member of the American Professional Soccer League but again were forced to move, this time to Lamport Stadium, again due to financial difficulties. Varsity Stadium continued to host the Canadian intercollegiate championship, the Vanier Cup (as it had been for most years from 1965–1988 [with exception of 1973–75]), but that too moved to larger quarters such as SkyDome (now known as Rogers Centre) as the popularity of the collegiate championship grew.

Canada's national soccer team played several matches at Varsity Stadium, including crucial World Cup qualifying matches versus Costa Rica in 1985 and Mexico in 1993. Friendly matches versus Germany and the Netherlands were also staged in 1994.

Minor league professional soccer team Toronto Lynx moved into the stadium in 1997 but was forced to move to Centennial Park Stadium due to the impending demolition of the historic facility.

The stadium was demolished mid-2002 after the cost of maintaining the large facility was far more than it generated in revenue. At that time, several structural sections of the stadium were being held up by temporary repairs, and the future integrity of the structure was in question. The field and track were retained after the demolition. During the demolition and re-building of the site Toronto Varsity Blues relocated to Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough.

Second stadium

Seats at the new Varsity Stadium are closer to the adjacent arena, making the two structures into a conjoined complex. Varsity Stadium - panoramio.jpg
Seats at the new Varsity Stadium are closer to the adjacent arena, making the two structures into a conjoined complex.

From 2003 through 2005, temporary seating of about 1,500 was installed to permit the use of the field for intercollegiate games. The name Varsity Field was used from 2002 to 2006 during the period when the old stadium was demolished and the new stadium was being built.

A plan to build a new 25,000 seat multi-purpose stadium on the site in 2005 was voted down by the governing council of the University of Toronto due to concerns over its cost. The facility was then planned to be built on the grounds of York University but that too failed. At the time of its demolition, Varsity Stadium was the second largest capacity stadium in Canada with a grass field, after Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta (however, that stadium has since switched to an artificial playing surface). The stadium opened in 2007.

Facilities and features built in the first phase of the stadium's reconstruction include an IAAF Class II 400m eight-lane track, artificial field turf (FIFA 2 Star rated surface by Polytan), and a winter bubble enabling use during inclement weather. The multi-use capability was one of the main reasons that the plan was passed by the governing council, as opposed to the 25,000 seat stadium. Compared to the old Varsity Stadium, the seating is closer to Varsity Arena, almost making the two structures one conjoined complex. Part of the red brick wall along Bloor Street was maintained for historic purposes, but the new facility is much more open and visible from the streets overall. The new facilities are designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects.

Following the renovation, the Argonauts returned to the stadium, hosting their 2013 preseason game at their former home. [6] Their 2014 and 2015 preseason home games were also scheduled for the stadium. [7] [8]

For the 2015 Pan American Games the facility hosted archery between July 14 and 18. During the games, the facility was configured to hold roughly 2,000 spectators per session. The facility also hosted the archery events of the 2015 Parapan American Games [9]

Major events

The Presentation of Colours for the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish Regiment was held at Varsity Stadium. Presentation of Colours consecration.JPG
The Presentation of Colours for the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish Regiment was held at Varsity Stadium.

In addition to hosting several University of Toronto athletic programs, the stadium has also hosted several events including military, musical, and sporting games.


The stadium has also been host to several concerts most notably the 1969 Rock 'n Roll Revival Concert, which Rolling Stone once called the second most important event in rock & roll history and resulted in a documentary movie, Sweet Toronto , and John Lennon's Live Peace In Toronto album. The performers were The Doors, Plastic Ono Band (Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Eric Clapton, with Klaus Voormann and Alan White), Bo Diddley, Chicago Transit Authority (later renamed "Chicago"), Tony Joe White, Alice Cooper, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys, Gene Vincent, Junior Walker & the All Stars, Little Richard, Doug Kershaw, Screaming Lord Sutch, Nucleus, Milkwood, and Whiskey Howl.

KISS performed at the stadium during their Destroyer Tour on September 6, 1976. Rush performed at the stadium on September 2, 1979 during their Permanent Waves Warm-up Tour.


Don Getty celebrates with the Grey Cup in the locker room of Varsity Stadium, after the 44th Grey Cup game 1956 Grey Cup victory.jpg
Don Getty celebrates with the Grey Cup in the locker room of Varsity Stadium, after the 44th Grey Cup game
Grey Cups at Varsity Stadium
GameDateWinning teamScoreLosing teamAttendance
3rd November 25, 1911 University of Toronto Varsity Blues (3)14–7 Toronto Argonauts 13,687
6th December 5, 1914 Toronto Argonauts 14–2 University of Toronto Varsity Blues 10,500
7th November 20, 1915 Hamilton Tigers (2)13–7Toronto Rowing Association2,808
8th December 4, 1920 University of Toronto Varsity Blues (4)16–3 Toronto Argonauts 10,088
9th December 3, 1921 Toronto Argonauts (2)23–0 Edmonton Eskimos 9,558
11th December 1, 1923 Queen's University (2)54–0 Regina Rugby Club 8,629
12th November 29, 1924 Queen's University (3)11–2 Toronto Balmy Beach 5,978
14th December 4, 1926 Ottawa Senators (2)10–7 Toronto Varsity Blues 8,276
15th November 26, 1927 Toronto Balmy Beach 9–6 Hamilton Tigers 13,676
18th December 6, 1930 Toronto Balmy Beach (2)11–6 Regina Roughriders 3,914
22nd November 24, 1934 Sarnia Imperials 20–12 Regina Roughriders 8,900
24th December 5, 1936 Sarnia Imperials (2)26–20 Ottawa Rough Riders 5,883
25th December 11, 1937 Toronto Argonauts (4)4–3 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 11,522
26th December 10, 1938 Toronto Argonauts (5)30–7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18,778
28th November 30, 1940 Ottawa Rough Riders 8–2 Toronto Balmy Beach 4,998
29th November 29, 1941 Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3)18–16 Ottawa Rough Riders 19,065
30th December 5, 1942 Toronto RCAF Hurricanes 8–5 Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 12,455
31st November 27, 1943 Hamilton Flying Wildcats 23–14 Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 16,423
33rd December 1, 1945 Toronto Argonauts (6)35–0 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18,660
34th November 30, 1946 Toronto Argonauts (7)28–6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18,960
35th November 29, 1947 Toronto Argonauts (8)10–9 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18,885
36th November 27, 1948 Calgary Stampeders 12–7 Ottawa Rough Riders 20,013
37th November 26, 1949 Montreal Alouettes 28–15 Calgary Stampeders 20,087
38th November 25, 1950 Toronto Argonauts (9)13–0 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27,101
39th November 24, 1951 Ottawa Rough Riders (4)21–14 Saskatchewan Roughriders 27,341
40th November 29, 1952 Toronto Argonauts (10)21–11 Edmonton Eskimos 27,391
41st November 28, 1953 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 12–6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27,313
42nd November 27, 1954 Edmonton Eskimos 26–25 Montreal Alouettes 27,328
44th November 24, 1956 Edmonton Eskimos (3)50–27 Montreal Alouettes 39,417
45th November 30, 1957 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2)32–7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27,425
Vanier Cups at Varsity Stadium
GameDateWinning TeamScoreLosing Team
1st November 20, 1965 Toronto 14–7 Alberta
2nd November 19, 1966 St. F.X. 40–14 Waterloo Lutheran
3rd November 25, 1967 Alberta 10–9 McMaster
4th November 22, 1968 Queen's 42–14 Waterloo Lutheran
5th November 21, 1969 Manitoba 24–15 McGill
6th November 21, 1970 Manitoba (2)38–11 Ottawa
7th November 20, 1971 Western 15–14 Alberta
8th November 25, 1972 Alberta (2)20–7 Waterloo Lutheran
12th November 19, 1976 Western (3)29–13 Acadia
13th November 19, 1977 Western (4)48–15 Acadia
14th November 18, 1978 Queen's (2)16–3 UBC
15th November 17, 1979 Acadia 34–12 Western
16th November 29, 1980 Alberta (3)40–21 Ottawa
17th November 28, 1981 Acadia (2)18–12 Alberta
18th November 20, 1982 UBC 39–14 Western
19th November 19, 1983 Calgary 31–21 Queen's
20th November 24, 1984 Guelph 22–13 Mount Allison
21st November 30, 1985 Calgary (2)25–6 Western
22nd November 22, 1986 UBC (2)25–23 Western
23rd November 21, 1987 McGill 47–11 UBC
24th November 19, 1988 Calgary (3)52–23 Saint Mary's
1976 Summer Olympics Football Matches at Varsity Stadium
DateTeam #1ResultTeam #2RoundAttendance
July 18, 1976Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 0–0Flag of East Germany.svg  East Germany Group A21,643
July 19, 1976Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 0–0Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala Group B9,500
July 21, 1976Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea 3–1Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Group D12,638
July 25, 1976Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 4–1Flag of Israel.svg  Israel Quarter-finals18,601
July 27, 1976Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 2–0Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Semi-finals21,743

See also

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  1. Samuel Hawley. "Percy Williams: World's Fastest Human". Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  2. 1976 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 2. pp. 226–9.
  3. 1976 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 3. pp. 227–89.
  4. Beard, Randy (April 25, 1979). "Blizzard Hope Revenge Snowballs The Rowdies". Evening Independent. p. 1C. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  5. Beard, Randy (May 4, 1984). "Down 3 more teams, but NASL is stronger". Evening Independent. p. 6C. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  6. "Recap:Argos win in return to Varsity Stadium". Toronto Argonauts. June 20, 2013. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  7. "Toronto Argonauts announce 2014 schedule!". Toronto Argonauts. February 12, 2014. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  8. "TORONTO ARGONAUTS ANNOUNCE 2015 GAME SCHEDULE". Toronto Argonauts. February 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  9. "Varsity Stadium". TO2015 . Retrieved November 16, 2014.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Rosedale Field
Home of the
Toronto Argonauts

Succeeded by
Rosedale Field
Preceded by
Rosedale Field
Home of the
Toronto Argonauts

Succeeded by
Exhibition Stadium