marvel, the Rogers Centre is home to Major League Baseball's only Canadian franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays. Opening in 1989,
it was the first stadium with a retractable roof allowing
any sport to be played indoors or outdoors, rain or shine. The idea
to build a new
stadium in the Toronto area began in 1923, but it was 63 years
later when construction actually started on a stadium. In the early
1970s Toronto began trying to lure a major league baseball team. They first tried to lure the San
Francisco Giants to the city and then sought to get MLB to
expand to Toronto. Finally, in 1976 the city was awarded a major
league franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays, who began
playing in 1977. However, the city still did not have a new stadium
for the team to play at. The Blue Jays played at
Exhibition Stadium (primary a football stadium, but retrofitted
to house baseball) for 12 seasons before moving into a new stadium.
In 1983 sites for a new domed stadium were
proposed. A site west of the CN Tower in downtown
Toronto was chosen and groundbreaking ceremonies for the domed stadium
were held on October 3, 1986. The new stadium would be more than just a
dome, it would have a retractable roof and would be home to
baseball, football and many other
events. Naming the stadium was
way fans got to participate as over 12,879 fans
submitted a large variety of suggestions to name the stadium
including names such as Alfresco Stadium, Railway Place and the Zipper Dome. The name
chosen for the stadium was announced on May 11, 1987, SkyDome. For
more than 15 years the stadium was known as SkyDome before being
renamed. In February 2005, Rogers
Communications bought the stadium for $25 million and renamed SkyDome, Rogers Centre.
Opening ceremonies at Rogers Centre took place on
June 3, 1989. Over 60,000 people watched the dome open for the first
time. Two days later the Blue Jays made their debut at the Rogers
Centre on June 5, 1989 when 51,000 fans filled the stadium. The retractable roof is
built of four independent panels.
When the roof opens three of the four panels, two barrel shaped and
one quarter dome, maneuver where they stack over the
fourth panel at the north end of the stadium. Weighing over 21
million pounds, it takes 20 minutes for the roof to open or close.
The Rogers Centre has five levels of seats that extend from right centerfield
to homeplate and to left centerfield. All of the lower l
are moveable and can form a football configuration.
The Rogers Centre has many other unique features
other than its retractable roof.
The Rogers Centre Hotel is part of the stadium. It has 350 rooms, 70
which overlook the playing field. Beyond centerfield is the Hard
Rock Café that also overlooks the playing field. Also in
centerfield is a 110 ft. wide by 33 ft. high JumboTRON video board.
The pitchers mound is raised and lowered hydraulically, when the
field is not in the baseball mode. After the 2004 season, the
Astroturf was removed and replaced with Fieldturf. In addition a new
main video/scoreboard was installed along with the addition of
video/scoreboards as part of the outfield fence. Since the its
opening in 1989 the Blue Jays have set attendance records by
drawing 4 million fans a year during the early 1990’s. The Blue Jays
have also had success at the Rogers Centre, winning the 1992 and
1993 World Series. The stadium is also the home of the Toronto Argonaughts (CFL) and was the home of the Toronto Raptors (NBA) from
1995 until 1999.