|Former names||SkyDome (1989–2005)|
|Address||1 Blue Jays Way|
|Public transit|| Union Station|
GO Bus Terminal
|Operator||Rogers Stadium Limited Partnership|
Canadian football: 31,074 (expandable to 52,230)
American football: 53,506
Basketball: 22,911 (expandable to 28,708)
|Record attendance||WrestleMania X8: 68,237 (March 17, 2002)|
|Field size||Left Field Line – 328 ft (100 m)|
Left-Centre – 368 ft (112 m)
Left-Centre Power Alley – 381 ft (116 m)
Centre Field – 400 ft (120 m)
Right-Centre Power Alley – 372 ft (113 m)
Right-Centre – 359 ft (109 m)
Right Field Line – 328 ft (100 m)
Backstop – 60 ft (18 m)
AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D (2010–2014)
AstroTurf 3D Xtreme (2015)
AstroTurf 3D Xtreme with dirt infield (2016–present)
|Broke ground||October 3, 1986|
|Opened||June 3, 1989 (as SkyDome)|
|Construction cost||$570 million|
|Architect||Rod Robbie, Robbie Adjeleian NORR Consortium|
|Structural engineer||Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd.|
|Services engineer||The Mitchell Partnership Inc.|
|General contractor||EllisDon Construction|
|Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) (1989–present)|
Toronto Argonauts (CFL) (1989–2015)
Toronto Raptors (NBA) (1995–1999)
International Bowl (NCAA) (2007–2010)
Rogers Centre (originally SkyDome) is a multi-purpose retractable roof stadium in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated at the base 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 also 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, circuses and monster truck shows.
The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the 2005 purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications, the corporation that also owns the Toronto Blue Jays. The venue is 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. 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 (renamed the Pan-Am Dome or Pan-Am Ceremonies Venue due to sponsorship regulations).
Background and design
The idea of building a domed stadium can be traced back to the 1968 Summer Olympic bid that Toronto lost to Montreal as the Canadian candidate city for the 1976 Summer Olympics. In the proposal, an 80,000–100,000 seat complex would be part of the planned Harbour City development on the site of Maple Leaf Stadium.
The contemporary 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 (also known as the Argos) 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 television audience in Canada (over 7.862 million viewers) to that point. 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!"
Seven months later, in June 1983, 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.
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.
The stadium 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 ($1.08 billion in 2021 dollars) which was paid for by the federal government, Ontario provincial government, the City of Toronto, and a large consortium of corporations.
The stadium was funded by a public–private partnership, with the government paying the largest percentage of the cost. The initial cost of $150 million was greatly underestimated, with the final cost coming in at C$570 million ($1.08 billion in 2021 dollars). Two levels of government (Metro Toronto and Provincial) each initially contributed $30 million ($56.8 million in 2021 dollars). This does not include the value of the land that the stadium sits on, which was owned by the Canada Lands Company (a Crown corporation of Canada) and the City of Toronto and was leased for $900,000 a year through 2088. Canada's three main breweries (Labatt's, Molson, and Carling O'Keefe) and the Toronto Blue Jays each paid $5 million ($9.47 million in 2021 dollars) to help fund the stadium. An additional 26 other Canadian corporations (selected by invitation only) also contributed $5 million, 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 ($283,957 to $425,936 in 2021 dollars) 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 percent stadium exclusivity, 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".
Construction of the Ontario Stadium Project was spearheaded 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 the 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. The stadium was completed two months late, having been planned to open for the first regular season game of the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays season; the team played the first two months of their home schedule at Exhibition Stadium that year.
The official name prior to and during construction was the 'Ontario Stadium Project' but was widely referred to in local media as simply 'the Dome' or 'Toronto Domed' stadium. As completion neared 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, 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 SkyDome, which is still honoured after the stadium was renamed to Rogers Centre, under new ownership.
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, impressionist 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
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 increased to $400 million by 1993. 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.
In November 1998, the stadium, which Labatt then owned as 49 percent of total, filed for bankruptcy protection, 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.
In April 1999, Sportsco International LP bought the stadium out of bankruptcy protection for $80 million.
Purchase and renaming
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 four percent of the cost of construction.
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. A baseball diamond in Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park is named SkyDome after the stadium's former and popular name.
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.
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. Proposed 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. 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 decreased overall capacity.
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.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2015)
Significant improvements to the facility since opening in 1989 include:
- Exterior roof lighting that can be programmed for themes and/or events.
- The Blue Jays clubhouse was substantially renovated, including a larger training room, an open concept lounge and personal lockers. In total, the clubhouse expanded from 12,000 to 24,000 square feet (1,100 to 2,200 m2).
- Main level concourse expansion, making the space brighter, more fan-friendly with expanded wheelchair seating.
- The FieldTurf was upgraded to AstroTurf Gameday Grass for 2010.
- The main video board was upgraded in 2005, from a JumboTron to a modern Daktronics video board, measuring 33 by 110 feet (10 by 34 m).
- Jays Shop – Stadium Edition, was expanded to an 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) retail space along the main concourse (2007).
- Two video boards were built into the outfield fence that each measure 10 by 65 feet (3 by 20 m). These boards provide player stats, out-of-town scores and other information related to the game and league.
- A continuous, ribbon-style video board was installed on the facing of the 300 Level, providing statistics and scores.
- Installation of 150 new 42-inch (1.07 m) flat-screen video monitors in the main and second level concourses, bringing the number of stadium monitors to around 300.
- Upgrade of the entire field lighting system in a two-month conversion process with all 840 of the 2,000-watt bowl lights replaced.
- A centre-field porch (later named the West Jet Flight Deck) in the 200 Level was added following the removal of the windows of the former Windows Restaurant (2013, $2 million).
- The AstroTurf Gameday Grass was upgraded to AstroTurf Gameday Grass 3D Extreme for the 2015 season.
- A full dirt infield was installed for 2016; for the previous six seasons, Rogers Centre was the only MLB ballpark with sliding pits.
- A two-year, $10 million roof upgrade, completed for the 2017 season, added computer technology to speed up the opening and closing process.
- A new AstroTurf field was installed prior to the 2021 season. The new turf is attached to the floor, so the stands will no longer be able to be rolled and will be permanently locked into baseball configuration.
- Further lighting and video board upgrades were made for the 2022 season.
- A major $300 million upgrade to the stadium interior is underway for the 2022–2023 and 2023–2024 offseasons. The first phase involves re-orienting outfield seats to face home plate, raising bullpens, adjusting the outfield dimensions to be asymmetrical, adding social spaces with bars in the outfield sections of the 500 Level, and removing some seats to widen all remaining seats.
Rogers Communications and Brookfield Asset Management have reportedly discussed replacing Rogers Centre with a smaller, baseball-specific stadium plus residential towers, office buildings, retail stores and public space. The new venue would be constructed on the southern end of the current stadium and adjacent parking lots, while the mixed-use development would be built on the northern portion of the site. An alternate site has also been considered for a new baseball park, at Quayside in Toronto's east end next to Lake Ontario. In July 2022, the Blue Jays announced that they had opted to undertake a major two-phased renovation of the stadium to extend its lifespan, but still intended to pursue a new stadium or rebuild of the Rogers Centre within 10 to 12 years.
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. It is not possible to move the roof in cold weather because the mechanism that closes the roof could fail in cooler weather.
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. Rogers Centre is one of five venues in Major League Baseball that use artificial turf (the others are Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, LoanDepot Park in Miami, Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and Chase Field 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).
The use of natural grass was long thought to be 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 2020 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 in Bay Lake, Florida, and during the 2020 and much of the 2021 seasons, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Blue Jays were playing most of their home games at their AAA affiliate's home stadium of Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York with the Blue Jays also playing home games in TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, during the first two months of the 2021 season). Along with Tropicana Field, the Rogers Centre warning track consists of brown turf.
However, the Blue Jays have long explored the possibility of converting the Rogers Centre to a natural grass surface, and plans were examined in order to install a grass field by 2018 to allow enough time for research and growing of the sod. 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. 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. The Blue Jays subsequently confirmed the Argonauts' early departure would not accelerate their own plans to install grass in 2018, though it did allow for a dirt infield to be installed for the 2016 season. 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.
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. The Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel is also within Rogers Centre with 70 rooms, and a restaurant and bar called the Sportsnet Grill overlooks the field. The Blue Jays in partnership with theScore Bet announced plans in April 2022 to create a new premium branded flagship sports bar and restaurant that would be open 365 days a year at the Rogers Centre.
Over $5 million of artwork was commissioned in 1989 ($9.5 million in 2021 dollars):
- The Audience – by Michael Snow is a collection of larger-than-life depictions of fans above the northeast and northwest entrances. Painted gold, the sculptures show fans in various acts of celebration.
- A Tribute to Baseball – by Lutz Haufschild, above the Southeast and Southwest entrances of Gate 5.
- The Art of the Possible – by Mimi Gellman, inside along the north side of the concourse on the 100 Level. The glass and steel sculpture incorporates the signatures of 2,000 builders of SkyDome, and is a tribute to their work. Some of the artifacts found during excavation, such as musket balls and pottery, have also been included. The brightly illuminated sculpture became an issue to baseball players when the stadium first opened. The bright lights were considered a distraction to batters.
- Salmon Run – by Susan Schelle, outside by the Southeast entrance in Bobbie Rosenfeld Park; it is a large fountain with various stainless steel salmon cutouts.
- Spiral Fountain – by Judith Schwarz.
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 the largest in North America at the time of the stadium's opening, but it has since been replaced a few times. There are also two ribbon boards made up of LED that run along the East and West sides of the stadium interior. Each board is 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 the stadium is in baseball configuration. These are 65 feet (20 m) wide by nearly 10 feet (3.0 m) high.
The main video board was upgraded again for the 2022 season, this time by using more modern technology and adding four "wings", two on each side of the central part of the main video board with the lower wings on each side being wider, making the main video board no longer rectangular. This was to accommodate the windows of the hotel behind the main video board.
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 in 1997.
The Blue Jays have won two World Series championships at Rogers Centre, hosting Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 1992 World Series and Games 1, 2, and 6 of the 1993 World Series at the stadium, then known as SkyDome, with Game 3 of the 1992 series the first World Series game ever played in Canada. 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 SkyDome.
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 held over 36,000 attendees at one point.
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.
The International Bowl, a NCAA college football game between two American schools – one from the Big East Conference and one from the Mid-American Conference – has been played at Rogers Centre four times. The Big East school has won all four bowl games. On January 6, 2007, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Western Michigan University Broncos, 27–24. The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University won the second bowl game in the series on January 5, 2008, by beating the Cardinals of Ball State University, 52–30. The Bulls of the University at Buffalo, a school within a ninety-minute drive of Rogers Centre, lost the third International Bowl to the University of Connecticut Huskies, 38–20. On January 2, 2010, the University of South Florida Bulls beat the Huskies of Northern Illinois University, 27–3.
Rogers Centre was also the venue for the 43rd Vanier Cup on Friday, November 23, 2007, 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. It marked the first time an NFL team has established a "home" stadium outside the United States for regular-season games. 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.
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.
|Date||Winning Team||Result||Losing Team||Competition||Spectators|
|January 24, 1995||Denmark League XI||1–0||Canada||SkyDome Cup||10,024|
|January 26, 1995||Canada||1–1||Portugal||13,658|
|January 29, 1995||Portugal||1–0||Denmark League XI||23,723|
|July 30, 2004||FC Porto||1–0||Liverpool||Club Friendly||40,078|
|July 31, 2004||Roma||1–0||Celtic||Club Friendly||50,168|
|June 8, 2005||Serbia and Montenegro||1–1||Italy||International Friendly||22,138|
|July 12, 2005||Dinamo Zagreb||1–0||Rangers||Club Friendly||18,159|
|July 7, 2006||United States||2–1||Canada||International U20 Friendly||5,325|
|May 25, 2010||ACF Fiorentina||1–0||Juventus||Club Friendly||21,122|
|July 16, 2010||Manchester United||3–1||Celtic||Club Friendly||39,193|
|August 3, 2010||Panathinaikos||3–2||Inter Milan||Club Friendly||17,169|
|March 7, 2012||Toronto FC||2–2||Los Angeles Galaxy||CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals||47,658|
|July 21, 2012||Toronto FC||1–1||Liverpool||Club Friendly||33,087|
|March 9, 2013||Toronto FC||2–1||Sporting Kansas City||MLS Regular Season||25,991|
|November 19, 2013||Brazil||2–1||Chile||International Friendly||38,154|
Having originated in 1980 at Exhibition Stadium, the Toronto Supercross moved to the Rogers Centre upon its opening in 1989. The event was held annually through 1996 before going on hiatus. It was revived as a part of the FIM World Supercross GP series in 2004 and joined the AMA Supercross Championship after the two series fully merged in 2008. The event ran until 2014 and returned for 2016 and 2017.
On January 16, 1993, the stadium hosted the Skydome Grand Prix featuring the USAC National Midget Car Series. The night of racing featured NASCAR stars John Andretti, Kenny Irwin Jr., Tony Stewart and Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva racing on a 1/6 mile oval track and was broadcast across Canada on TSN.
It hosted the 1993 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field 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. On April 30, 2011, UFC 129 was hosted at Rogers Centre, in the first major mixed martial arts event to ever be held in Ontario after the province lifted a ban on prizefighting. Due to overwhelming demand for tickets (with the initial slate of 42,000 selling in around half an hour), the UFC and Rogers Centre reconfigured the event for 55,000 tickets. The event broke a UFC attendance record set at UFC 124 in Montreal, and also set records for the largest single-day gate revenue in both UFC (surpassing UFC 66 by at least double) and Rogers Centre history.
WWE has hosted WrestleMania at Rogers Centre twice. WrestleMania VI was 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, the main event seeing Triple H win the WWF Undisputed Championship against Canadian Chris Jericho.
In February 1999, the stadium hosted a taping for the February 13, 1999, episode of Raw (a special Saturday-night airing of Raw due to USA Network's coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show), featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin being defeated by Mr. McMahon in a gauntlet match against The Corporation. It had the largest crowd in Raw history, with a reported attendance of 41,432.
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). 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.
Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large-scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto. Artists have included Bruce Springsteen, U2 with two concerts in 2009, as well as their concert in 2011, all part of their 360° Tour. Bon Jovi performed two sellout shows on July 20 and 21, 2010, at Rogers Centre as part of The Circle Tour. Bruce Springsteen performed on August 24, 2012, during his Wrecking Ball World Tour in front of 39,000 attendees.
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, the stadium hosted two electronic dance music events, including two sold-out shows on Swedish House Mafia's One Last Tour, and Sensation.
One of the more notable concerts, as shown in the documentary Truth or Dare, was Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour show. 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.
Guns N' Roses performed at Rogers Centre on July 16, 2016, during their Not in This Lifetime... Tour in front of 48,016 attendees with Billy Talent. 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. Shawn Mendes headlined his first stadium show to a sold-out crowd on September 6, 2019, at Rogers Centre during his Shawn Mendes: The Tour.
Rogers Centre contains 143,000 sq ft (13,300 m2) of exhibition space, allowing it to host a variety of events year-round.
It has also hosted many public speakers, including appearances by the Dalai Lama, Christian evangelist Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, and for a book reading with J. K. Rowling and Margaret Atwood.
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.
In addition, the building contains the Toronto Renaissance Hotel, a Premier Fitness/Health Club, a Rogers Plus store, (formerly) a Hard Rock Cafe (now John Street Terrace), and (formerly) Windows Restaurant (now WestJet Flight Deck). Starting in 2006, the Hard Rock Cafe only opened when there was a performance in the building, and closed altogether in 2009. On non-event days, there are daily tours of the Rogers Centre.
- World Wrestling Federation's WrestleMania X8 attracted the largest paid crowd to SkyDome. The March 17, 2002, event gathered 68,237 fans. WrestleMania VI held the previous record of 67,678 on April 1, 1990.
- Major League Baseball: The 1991 All-Star Game on July 9 attracted 52,383 spectators.
- Billy Graham Mission Ontario Youth Rally: This meeting, on June 10, 1995, is conceivably the most attended event in the stadium's history. The attendance of 72,500 was boosted by performances by several Christian music groups, and by extensive seating on the field. There were as many as 30,000 people outside, watching the event on screens around the stadium.
- Toronto Blue Jays: A crowd of 52,268 attended game five of the 1992 World Series, which Toronto lost 7–2 to the Atlanta Braves. The smallest crowd for a Jays game occurred in April 2010, when 10,314 watched Toronto win 8–1 against the Kansas City Royals.
- Canadian Football League: 54,088 packed the SkyDome to watch the 1989 Grey Cup Game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
- Toronto Argonauts: The 1991 Eastern Division Final played against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers drew a crowd of 50,386. The smallest crowd for an Argonauts game occurred on July 13, 2001, when 11,041 people watched Toronto lose 30–16 against Winnipeg
- National Football League: 55,799 fans filled the Rogers Centre to see the Buffalo Bills defeat the Dallas Cowboys 9–7 in an American Bowl exhibition game on August 12, 1995.
- Toronto Raptors: A March 24, 1996, game against the Chicago Bulls drew a crowd of 36,131. For this game, the basketball venue was reconfigured to accommodate more fans due to the popularity of the visiting team, which basketball superstar Michael Jordan played for during this time. The expansion Raptors handed the record-setting Bulls one of their ten defeats that season, winning 109–108.
- Soccer: A July 31, 2004, soccer game between Celtic F.C. and A.S. Roma drew 50,158.
- Mixed martial arts: UFC 129 sold 55,000 tickets for the highest single-day event gate in the stadium's history and set new world records for the sport.
- 1986 – October 3 – SkyDome's ground is broken.
- 1987 – June 3 – The stadium is officially named "SkyDome".
- 1989 – June 2 – Dress rehearsal for opening ceremony, family/friends of volunteer performers invited to attend. First unofficial "wave" performed at SkyDome.
- 1989 – June 3 – SkyDome officially opens, hosting a live opening night gala.
- 1989 – June 5 – SkyDome plays host to its first Blue Jays game. The Blue Jays lose 5–3 to the Milwaukee Brewers.
- 1989 – June 5 – Fred McGriff hits the first home run at SkyDome.
- 1989 – June 7 – John Cerutti records the first Blue Jays win at SkyDome, beating the Brewers 4–2.
- 1989 – June 8 – Rod Stewart performs the first concert at SkyDome.
- 1989 – July 12 – The stadium plays host to its first Argonauts game.
- 1989 – July 17 – First Doubleheader at Skydome and the Jays win both games beating the Angels.
- 1989 – Jose Canseco hits a home run into the fifth deck of SkyDome, off Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Mike Flanagan. It is an estimated 480-foot (150 m) shot, although one journalist estimated it to be at least 500 feet.
- 1989 – November 5 – Rest of the World defeats West Indies by 11 runs in longest game (cricket) hosted by SkyDome
- 1989 – November 26 – The Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 43–40 in the 77th Grey Cup.
- 1990 – April 1 – WrestleMania VI saw the then SkyDome attendance record of 67,678.
- 1990 – The MLB single season attendance record is broken with 58 sellouts and a season total crowd of 3,885,284.
- 1991 – July 9 – The stadium is the host of the MLB All-Star Game.
- 1992 – The Calgary Stampeders defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24–10 in the 80th Grey Cup.
- 1992 – The first World Series game outside the United States is played at SkyDome, as the Blue Jays host the Atlanta Braves in game three of the 1992 World Series.
- 1993 – October 23 – The Blue Jays win their second straight World Series championship when Toronto outfielder Joe Carter hits a walk-off home run against Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams.
- 1995 – June 22 – During a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, two acoustic panels fall off the inner ceiling in the seventh inning, injuring seven fans. The game is not stopped.
- 1995 – July 9 – A worker dies when installing lights for a computer show (falling 7.6 metres (25 ft))
- 1998 – November – Several dignitaries, including Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien, honour the visiting South African president Nelson Mandela.
- 1998 – November – SkyDome files for bankruptcy protection.
- 1998 – SkyDome is purchased out of bankruptcy by Sportsco.
- 2001 – April 12 – A scheduled Blue Jays' game against the Kansas City Royals is cancelled due to the retractable roof jamming during a test run, damaging the roof and sending debris crashing to the field below.
- 2001 – August 3 – The retractable roof is ordered closed in the third inning of a Toronto Blue Jays' game against the Baltimore Orioles at the request of home plate umpire Tim Welke, as a swarm of thousands of aphids descends on SkyDome.
- 2001 – Oct 5 – The second doubleheader at SkyDome and the Jays win both games again beating the Cleveland Indians.
- 2002 – March 17 – WrestleMania X8 sets the SkyDome attendance record of 68,237.
- 2005 – February 2 – Rogers Communications buys the stadium and renames it Rogers Centre.
- 2007 – November 25 – Rogers Centre plays host to the 95th Grey Cup, the first in Toronto in 15 years. The Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23–19 in the game.
- 2008 – August 14 – Rogers Centre plays host to a pre-season National Football League game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, the first of a five-year lease deal that sees the Bills playing occasional home games in Toronto.
- 2011 – April 30 – Rogers Centre holds its first UFC event, UFC 129. It is the first to be held in a stadium and was the biggest MMA event in North America at that time.
- 2011 – June 25 – Rogers Centre successfully holds the first International Indian Film Academy Awards event in North America.
- 2012 – November 25 – The Toronto Argonauts defeat the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th Grey Cup 35–22. Johnny Reid headlined a special Kick-Off Show, and half time performers include internationally renowned Canadian singers Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Marianas Trench, and Gordon Lightfoot.
- 2015 – July 10 – Rogers Centre holds the opening ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Games.
- 2015 – July 26 – Rogers Centre holds the closing ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Games.
- 2015 - November 6 - The last Argonauts game hosted at Rogers Centre before the team's move to BMO Field in the next season. The Argonauts won against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a score of 21-11.
- 2016 – October 4 – Rogers Centre opens its roof for the first time in Blue Jays postseason history during the American League Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles.
- 2018 – April 16 – A scheduled Blue Jays' game against the Kansas City Royals is cancelled due to the retractable roof having a hole as a result of the mid-April 2018 ice storm.
- 2018 – April 17 – The third doubleheader in Blue Jays history at Rogers Centre and the Blue Jays would remain unbeaten in doubleheaders at Rogers Centre as they beat Royals 11–3 in Game 1 and 5–4 in Game 2.
- 2020–21 – The Blue Jays are forced to relocate their home games to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York and TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida on a temporary basis for the 2020 season and the start of the following season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the Canada–United States border.
- 2021 – July 30 – The first Blue Jays game back at Rogers Centre since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was against the Kansas City Royals.
Facts and figures
Opening Day (June 5, 1989)
Reference: Retrosheet: Skydome [sic] firsts
|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)
|Batter||Paul Molitor, Brewers|
|Blue Jays Batter||Junior Félix|
|Hit||Paul Molitor, Brewers (double)|
|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)|
|Home run||Fred McGriff, Blue Jays (June 5, 1989)|
|Grand slam||Terry Steinbach, Athletics (July 16, 1989)|
|Blue Jays grand slam||Glenallen Hill (September 1, 1989)|
|Inside-the-park home run||Rance Mulliniks, Blue Jays (July 11, 1991)|
|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)|
|Blue Jays cycle||Jeff Frye (August 17, 2001)|
|Blue Jays Win||John Cerutti (June 7, 1989)|
|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)|
|Wild pitch||Jimmy Key, Blue Jays (June 5, 1989)|
|Balk||Tony Fossas, Brewers (June 7, 1989)|
|No-hitter||Dave Stewart, Athletics (June 29, 1990)|
This section possibly contains original research. (August 2014)
- The stadium roof has a patent, preventing its design from being easily copied: U.S. Patent #4676033. The patent was officially filed on May 1, 1986, and published June 30, 1987, to dome designers, architect Rod Robbie and structural engineer Michael Allen.
- The original mascot of the stadium was a turtle by the name of Domer. Domer has not been widely used since the mid-1990s, although he did make a return on June 6, 2014, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rogers Centre.
- When the retractable roof is open, people standing on the observation deck of the nearby CN Tower can look down on the field.
- Over 50 million people have visited SkyDome/Rogers Centre.
- When the roof is open, 91 percent of the seats and 100 percent of the field is open to the sky, covering an area of 3.2 hectares (7.9 acres).
- The roof weighs 11,000 tons and is held together by 250,000 bolts.
- The stadium's inward-looking hotel rooms have regular two-way windows, yielding instances of what some could consider indecent exposure and leading to nicknames such as "SexDome" and "Exhibitionist Stadium". When SkyDome first opened, a couple engaging in sexual intercourse was televised on the scoreboard Jumbotron during a baseball game, thanks to illumination from stadium lighting despite the room's lights being off. Days later, a man was caught masturbating during a game in full view of the packed stands. The man, later tracked down by a Sports Illustrated reporter, calmly said, "I thought they were one-way windows." Patrons now have to sign contracts stipulating they will not perform any lewd acts within view of the stadium. The last reported such instance occurred in 1996. Occasionally, broadcasts will zoom into humorous instances from these hotel rooms, such as a pillow fight during the 1992 World Series.
- When the stadium first opened, the Toronto Transit Commission was worried about the challenge of moving the large crowds. As a way to streamline the entry to the subway and to encourage public transit use to the stadium, all tickets for the first 30 days also worked as a Metropass, which was the commission's monthly pass.
- The stadium corporation has been requested to help in the planning of other venues from the U.S., Netherlands, England, Australia, New Zealand, to Singapore, China and Germany (Source: Rogers Centre Press release).
- It was the most expensive stadium in both the Canadian Football League and Major League Baseball, constructed at a price of C$570 million (C$1.08 billion in 2021 dollars). This record was passed by the New Yankee Stadium at a cost of US$1.5 billion. If Montreal's Olympic Stadium (which was formerly the home field of the Expos, only used for CFL playoff games since the late 2000s and MLS playoff games since the mid-2010s) were counted, it would take the title, with a 1976 cost of C$1.6 billion (C$3.03 billion in 2021 dollars).
- Because of the orientation of the baseball playing field at Rogers Centre, when a player is at bat, the direction he is facing looks farther to the west than at any other Major League Baseball park.
- Rogers Centre has hosted regular-season games of five of the six major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada throughout the stadium's history; all but a National Hockey League (NHL) game, despite the Toronto Maple Leafs being in the NHL.
In popular culture
The stadium is the setting of the climax in the 2022 Pixar animated film Turning Red, in which the fictional boy band 4*Town performs a large-scale concert during which the stadium is partially destroyed. As the Toronto-set film's time period is set in 2002, the stadium is referred to by its original SkyDome name.
- List of Australian Football League grounds
- List of Canadian Football League stadiums
- List of current National Football League stadiums
- List of current Major League Baseball stadiums
- List of stadiums in Canada
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