- Exhibition Stadium
Exhibition Stadium in 1992
stadium_name = Canadian National Exhibition Stadium
built = 1948 (grandstand)
1959 (football seats)
1976 (football and baseball seats)
opened = 1959
May 28, 1989
February 1, 1999
owner = City of Toronto
construction_cost = $17.6 million (1976 baseball reconfiguration)
Toronto Blue Jays(MLB) (1977-1989)
Toronto Argonauts(CFL) (1959-1988)
Vanier Cup(CIS) (1973-1975)
seating_capacity = 33,150 (1959-1974 football)
41,890 (1975 football)
54,000 (1976-1988 football)
38,522 (1977 baseball)
43,737 (1978-1989 baseball)
dimensions = Left Field Line - 330 ft (101 m)
Left-Centre Power Alley - 375 ft (114 m)
Centre Field - 400 ft (122 m)
Right-Centre Power Alley - 375 ft (114 m)
Right Field Line - 330 ft (101 m)
Backstop - 60 ft (18 m)
Canadian National Exhibition Stadium (commonly known as Exhibition Stadium, CNE Stadium or The Ex) was a
multi-purpose stadiumthat formerly stood on the Exhibition Placegrounds in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Originally built for Canadian football, the Canadian National Exhibitionand other events, the stadium served as the home of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseballteam from 1977-1989. It also served as the home of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football Leagueteam from 1959-1988. The stadium hosted the Grey Cupgame twelve times over a 24-year period.
Exhibition Stadium was actually the fourth stadium to be built on the site since 1879. The covered north-side grandstand was constructed in 1948, followed by a south bleacher section for football in 1959. When converted for football in 1959, the stadium seated 33,150. [Toronto Argonauts 1959 Fact Book, inside front cover.] The stadium was reconfigured again in the mid-1970s to allow the expansion Toronto Blue Jays to play there, with additional seating opposite the covered grandstand in left field on the first base side and curving around to the third base side. It was the only major league stadium where the bleachers were covered but the main grandstand was not.
In 1999, the stadium was demolished and the site was turned into a
parking lot. However, a soccer-specific stadiumknown as BMO Fieldwas built on the site from 2006-2007.
The "Mistake by the Lake"
Exhibition Stadium was problematic for hosting baseball. Like most multi-purpose stadiums, the outfield seats were far from the field. This was magnified by the fact that Canadian football fields are 30 yards longer than
American footballfields. Combined with the vaguely horseshoe-shape of the stadium, this resulted in many of the seats down the right field line and in the bleachers in right-centre being extremely far from the infield; they actually faced each other rather than the action. In fact, some seats were as far as 820 feet from home plate — the farthest such distance of any stadium ever used as a principal home field in the majors.
The best seats for baseball were the left-field bleachers, which offered the best view of the game. They were also the only section that offered protection from the elements. Ironically, they were the cheapest seats. The only other seats that offered a decent view of the game were directly behind the plate. Most other seats looked away from the field. Several bleacher seats in left-centre and several permanent seats down the right-field line were so far from the field that the Blue Jays didn't even sell them during the regular season.Relatively close to
Lake Ontario, the stadium was often quite cold at the beginning and end of the season. The first Blue Jays game played there on April 7, by|1977 was the only major league game ever played with the field covered entirely by snow. Conditions at the stadium led to another odd incident that first year. On September 15, Baltimore Oriolesmanager Earl Weaverpulled his team off the field because he felt the bricks holding down the bullpen tarps were a hazard to his players. This garnered a win by forfeit for the Jays. An April 30, by|1984 game against the Texas Rangers was stopped after only six pitches due to high winds. After a 30-minute delay, the game was called off — the only such postponement in baseball history. Because of the variable climate and the stadium's multiple tenants, the stadium's surface was AstroTurfinstead of natural grass.
By 1983, officials with
Metro Toronto, the Blue Jays and Argonauts agreed to abandon Exhibition Stadium once a domed stadium could be built closer to Toronto's downtown. The decision to build a retractable roof stadium – the second in North America, and the first with rigid roof panels – along with engineering and cost questions meant that SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) was not completed until by|1989. If not delayed, it would have been the "first" retractable roof in North America; Le Stade Olympique in Montrealfinally got its retractable roof to work in 1988, but its design was problematic, and it was shut down for good and replaced by a fixed roof in 1992.
Due to its position next to the lake, and the food disposed by baseball and football fans, the stadium was a popular feeding ground for
seagulls. New York Yankeesoutfielder Dave Winfieldwas arrested on August 4, by|1983 for killing a seagull with a baseball. Winfield had just finished his warmups in the 5th inning and threw a ball to the ballboy. The seagull was hit in the head and died. Some claimed that Winfield hit the bird on purpose, which prompted Yankees manager Billy Martinto quip, "They wouldn't say that if they'd seen the throws he'd been making all year. It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man." The charges were later dropped.
Exhibition Stadium lay mostly dormant over the decade following the opening of SkyDome, except for the occasional concert or minor sporting event. It was demolished in 1999 and the site became a parking lot. A few chairs from the stadium can be found on the southeast corner just north of the bridge to cross over to Ontario Place’s main entrance. The remaining chairs were sold off to collectors during the dismantling of the stadium.
October 26, 2005, the City of Toronto approved $69 million CAD to build a new 20,000 seat stadium in almost the same spot where the old Stadium once was. The governments of Canadaand Ontariocombined for $35 million CAD, with the city paying $9.8 million CAD, and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainmentpaying the rest, including any runoff costs. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment got the naming rights of the new stadium, and has a Major League Soccerteam in the new stadium, named Toronto FC. The stadium, called BMO Field, also held the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cupalong with other cities in Canada.
Facts and figures
* In 1982, the
70th Grey Cupgame held at the stadium had the largest number of television viewers in Canadian history, with 7,862,000. The record has since been broken.
* In 1985, the first Game 7 in the history of the
American League Championship Serieswas played at the stadium. The Blue Jays lost to the Kansas City Royals, 6–2.
Toronto Blue Jays
* [http://www.worldstadiums.com/stadium_menu/past_future/pictures/past_stadiums/toronto_exhibition.shtml Overhead photo of Exhibition Stadium]
* [http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/ExhibitionStadium.htm BallparksOfBaseball.com]
* [http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/american/exhibi.htm Ballparks.com]
title = Home of the
Toronto Blue Jays
years = 1977 – 1989
before = first ballpark
after = SkyDomesuccession box
title = Home of the
years = 1959 – 1988
after = SkyDome
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