Major League Baseball has 30 teams. 29 of those teams play in the contiguous United States. The other team plays in the largest city in Canada, Toronto.
The Blue Jays have played at Rogers Centre since 1989.
The Blue Jays have been in the American League since 1977. They have played at their current home, the Rogers Centre since 1977.
Their original home was Exhibition Stadium. It was originally built for Canadian Football. While they made the dimensions normal for a baseball field, the stadium never looked right for baseball.
All the seats in foul territory were open aired, a rarity for an MLB park. The left field bleachers looked like they were obviously better suited for football. There were no seats in right field at all.
The Jays would leave Exhibition for the brand new SkyDome in the middle of the 1989 season. SkyDome, which was the name chosen in a contest, was inspired by the state of the art retractable roof that graced the stadium.
The retractable roof at SkyDome was the first to be fully motorized, but not the first stadium to have a retractable roof. Olympic Stadium in Montreal was designed with a retractable roof that was supposed to work using a pulley system. However, that failed miserably and never worked how the way it was intended.
The Blue Jays had great success in the early years of SkyDome. They won the AL East in 4 of their first 5 years and topped it off with World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. But as the retro ballparks started taking over MLB, SkyDome quickly became outdated.
SkyDome became Rogers Centre before the 2006 season. It is now the 7th oldest ballpark in baseball. The AstroTurf has been replaced by FieldTurf. The Jays are one of only two teams that doesn’t play on a natural grass surface.
My first trip to Toronto was in September of 2018 to see my beloved Cleveland Indians take on the Jays. This was my first trip outside of the US too. I basically got a passport just to go see Rogers Centre.
Now going in, my expectations for Rogers were not that high. I had seen pictures of the stadium plenty of times to know I was not going to get a spectacular backdrop. If the roof is open, you can see the CN Tower next to the stadium. That’s it.
When I walked into Rogers, it was exactly what I expected from an architecture standpoint. The main concourse wrapped all the way around the stadium, the dimensions were symmetrical, etc.
As I do with every stadium when I first visit it, I try to explore as much of the stadium as I can. I check out different views of the field, see what it what might look like.
Rogers was also the first time I saw a game on an artificial surface. If you were further away from the field, it actually kind of looked like natural grass. Up close, it just looked weird, not normal at all.
The Blue Jays were ho-hum in 2018, so the atmosphere at the two games I attended was nothing special. I know Rogers could get pretty loud during playoff games since I had heard their fans on TV during the 2015 and 2016 playoffs. This particular weekend there was nothing special about the atmosphere.
Overall, I did not love Rogers Centre, but I also did not look on it with great disdain. If you know what Rogers is like and when it was built compared to most other current ballparks, you won’t go in expecting a transcendent experience.
I’ll probably go back at some point. I have a friend who lives in Toronto right now, and it can be done as a weekend trip on a drive from Columbus. It will definitely have to be when the Jays play the Indians though.