An architectural 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 Toronto began in 1923, but it was 63 years later when construction actually started. In the early 1970s Toronto began trying to lure a major league baseball team to the city, first trying to get the San Francisco Giants to relocate. They were unable to lure the Giants and sought to get MLB to expand to Toronto. In 1976 the city was awarded a major league franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays, who began playing in 1977. However, the city did not have a new stadium for the team to play at forcing the Blue Jays to play at Exhibition Stadium (primary a football stadium, but retrofitted to house baseball) for 12 seasons.
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 stadium would be more than just a dome, it would feature a retractable roof and would be home to baseball, football and many other events. Naming the stadium was a way the public was able to participate in part of the stadium process 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, the Rogers Centre.
Opening ceremonies at the SkyDome 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 on June 5, 1989 when 51,000 fans filled the stadium. The retractable roof consists 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 level seats are moveable and can form a football gridiron, as the Jays share the stadium with the Toronto Argonauts (CFL). The pitchers mound is raised and lowered hydraulically, when the field is not in the baseball mode.
The Rogers Centre has many other unique features other than its retractable roof. The Rogers Centre Renaissance Hotel is part of the stadium. It has 350 rooms, 70 that overlook the playing field. In centerfield is the 110 ft. wide by 33 ft. high HD video/scoreboard. After the 2004 season, the Astroturf was removed and replaced with Fieldturf. The Blue Jays have had success at the Rogers Centre, winning the 1992 and 1993 World Series. They also attracted four million fans a season during this time. With it’s roof open on a sunny afternoon and it’s location in downtown Toronto alongside the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre is a great place to spend an afternoon watching baseball. In the future Blue Jays fans may see baseball played on a grass field at the Rogers Centre. In December 2015 the team announced that they would install a dirt infield at the Rogers Centre. This eliminates the dirt cut-outs around the bases. The team is currently researching and analyzing the possibility of installing a grass field in 2018. This is dependent on several factors, including the Argonauts moving out of the Rogers Centre.
Rogers Centre Pictures