When this stadium opened in 1989, it was billed as an architectural marvel, and the trend setting
design for the MLB ballpark of the future. Imagine an edifice with a fully functioning retractable roof, a
hotel built right into the facility, with rooms overlooking the field. Multiple restaurants and dining
options, again with views of the action. Skydome, if you will, was heralded as the ultimate sports venue
of the future. But - shortly thereafter baseball was treated to the opening of Camden Yards in Baltimore,
and it was this retro design that captured the hearts and fancy of baseball fans, and it was this formula
that was universally adopted during the construction boom of the 90s.
Today the renamed Rogers Centre stands as a unique original, and the Blue Jays' new owners,
Rogers Communications is implementing huge upgrades and renovations to keeping this stadium an
exciting and pleasant place to enjoy the game of baseball.
Getting to the venue
The Rogers Centre is located right downtown, and right next door to the landmark CN Tower, and is
also easily visible off the Gardiner Expressway. Traffic in Toronto is almost always congested, so
always allow extra time to get anywhere you need to go. Parking for the Rogers Centre means
checking out the myriad of private lots scattered across downtown. Expect to pay anywhere from $15 to
$20 near the venue, although prices tend to change depending on what else is going on in the city or
who the Jays are playing. Free street parking is almost impossible to find, as the City of Toronto has
upgraded to those newfangled kiosk meters where you buy the ticket and put it on your dashboard
($1.50/hr). We have scouted out a good lot on Wellington, right off Spadina, where the fee runs $5, and
just a 10 minute walk to the stadium.
Other options are the GO Trains which run all the way to Oakville, or the TTC subway, with the Union
Station stop just two blocks away off of Front St.
Outside the venue
Toronto is an amazing and bustling city, and the Rogers Centre is right in the middle of it all. On the
north side is Front Street, and endless choices of restaurants and eateries await. Just two blocks north
of there is the Theatre District, with yet more places to check out. Of course, the CN Tower is a
destination venue in itself, and that is right next door. On the south side of the stadium just the other
side of the Gardiner is Queens Quay, with tons of waterfront attractions and restaurants. High rise
hotels are in abundance, and the neighborhood outside Rogers Centre has had spectacular growth in
recent years, with high rise condo towers dotting the skyline.
Around the outside of the stadium are numerous public plazas and gathering areas, and on a warm
day, many entertainers and street vendors can be found and it is a great place to just sit and people
watch. The Shopsy's vending carts can't be beat - a massive sausage served on an egg roll with plenty
of toppings available ($4).
The building is laid out into three levels 100 200 and 500. (300 and 400 levels are suites levels). In
2005 the team began a massive renovation of the concourses, and in the 100 level the top couple
rows of seats were remover to improve the width of the concourses and view of the action on the field.
New polished terrazzo tile flooring, ceiling tiles and lighting, a continuous row of murals interspersed
with ads, plasma TV screens and festive concession canopies have given the corridors here a fresh
new look. We hear that the outfield and skydeck concourses are due for the renovation treatment in the
Access from lower to upper decks is via ramps only - no escalators so have your walking shoes on!
Another interesting feature in the main concourse is the addition of non baseball related retail outlets,
including a video store and wireless telephone outlet, both located next to a new team store. There
shops open to the outside on non game days.
With a capacity of 50,000 seats, this is a pretty big stadium, and the Jays have tried closing off outfield
areas and tarping them in recent seasons to try to shrink capacity. The seats are all blue, and the
panorama of the outfield is quite distinctive - the three restaurants, the windows of the hotel rooms,
and a massive video board the centerpiece of it all.
Speaking of scoreboard, the Blue Jays have done terrific upgrades to their seating bowl electronic
amenities, starting with replacing their Jumbotron with a state of the art Daktronics video board. Two
large screens on the outfield fences display out of town scores with detailed in-game information, and
thankfully, they ditched the harsh green background with a black one, much more pleasing to the eye
and we're sure better for the players. Ribbon LED boards fan out along the suite level balcony which
add a lot to the special effects.
Our good friend from Toronto Carol McLean once referred to the food at Skydome as ballpark dreck.
Thankfully, new ownership has also made some improvements both to the concession stands and
the product being served. Don't let all the fancy names on the concession canopies fool you, the
offerings at all the stands is pretty much the same, but down in the 100 concourse one can find a
cheese steak stand and corned beef carvery, with the sandwiches prepared before your eyes. In the
old days when Interbrew SA owned the team, Labatt's was the only beer available but today one can
find a wide selection of beers.
The main team store is on the infield 100 concourse, though there are plenty of merchandise kiosks
scattered throughout the building.
There are three restaurants in the outfield overlooking the field, though keep in mind that access to
these facilities is from the outside only. Windows, Sightlines and a Hard Rock Cafe all accept
reservations for table seating and a great view of the game.
The Jays have also renovated their 200 club level, establishing a "Club 200 VIP" with in seat waiter
service, upgraded decor, table areas with views of the field. Top rows of seats have also been
eliminated on this level to increase concourse space.
The 300 and 400 levels are exclusive suite levels, including a super suite which can accommodate up
to 350 guests called the ".400 summit".
The Jays have won 1992 and 1993 World Series Championships, and they fly proudly next to their
divisional championship banners. The CFL Toronto Argonauts also list their league titles. The Blue
Jays have established a ring called "Level of Excellence", right along the 500 level balcony, which lists
their all time greats. Players George Bell, Dave Stieb, Joe Carter, and Tony Fernandez are joined by
past team president Pat Gillick, former manager Cito Gaston and legendary broadcaster Tom Cheek.
Home runs, hits, errors...
Hit...The Jays do their own fight song which goes "OK-Blue Jays-Lets!-Play!-Ball!" done to a calisthenic
routine by cheerleaders on the dugouts. Andrew thinks it's catchy....Ask Peter what HE thinks of this
song! The traditional "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" is added on during the 7th inning stretch.
Home Run... To Blue Jays Media Relations Director WILL HILL, who has always accommodated us for
our Artvoice media assignments and is generally just a nice guy. Will is an inductee in the USRT Hall
Home Run... For a well appointed Jays Kids Zone in the 200 level outfield, yet another nice new
amenity for the fans.
Home Run (times 4!)... On September 25, 2003, Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado became just the
15th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game, in just four at bats, no less! And yes,
the USRT was in the building!!!
Hit... Here's a bargain, just $9 gets you anywhere in the skydeck, while the rest of the building here is
rather pricey as far as ticket costs, but that leads us to...
Error... Sidle up to the ticket window at Rogers Centre with your nine beans in hand, and you will
actually be charged $11 - "Two dollar convenience fee". So WHERE exactly can one buy this ticket for
the published price?
Error... Thinking of sliding down to better seats in the later innings??? Forget about it! The sphincter
police here are among the savviest and toughest of any sports venue, although at least you will always
be treated with that exquisite Canadian politeness. "Votre billets, si vous plait? Eh?"
Hit... To the Skydome Renaissance Hotel built right into the north side of the stadium, unique in the
four major sports.
Home Run ... To the Toronto Star sponsored "Season Pass"... Get this: for $81 (plus a service fee) you
get a pass which gets you a skydeck seat (redeemable day of game only) to ALL 81 home games. Are
you frikkin' kidding!!!???
Home Run... Toronto seems to be a good common meeting ground to hook up with fellow famed road
trippers, including Gary Herman/Mike "The King" Casiano from NYC, Jim Waddell and his posse from
Montana, and Sean MacDonald and friend Aya from Tokyo.
If you are a first time visitor, you will be impressed - overwhelmed is more like it. The Rogers Centre is
really a pretty neat place to take in a baseball game, large, yet in its own quirky way, really intimate. The
electronics and scoreboard are superb, the in game entertainment above par, and the building really is
kind of a neat place to experience. And don't forget, a world class city lays right at the doorstep, with so
much to see and do here, and an energy in the streets, the neighborhoods and the downtown
business district that you can really feel. This is the closest MLB venue to our home base in Buffalo,
so this is a trip we make several times each summer. No need to twist our arms to do a Blue Jays
game... we will return again and again!
Food and team store 4
Scoreboard and electronics 8.5
Fan support 5
Location and neighborhood 8
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 7
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Hotel 2; Blue Jays fight song 1; Shopsy's vending carts 2
This profile updated 6/27/06