SkyDome Was a Mistake (and it's 25 Today)

SkyDome Was a Mistake and it's 25My earliest Blue Jays memories go back to Exhibition Stadium. I was too young to care that it was affectionately known as "The Mistake by the Lake". After all, it was a major league stadium and my Blue Jays played there.

I remember the opening of SkyDome well. In fact, Domer is stored away in a box somewhere. I caught two games at SkyDome that opening week and I remember how bright and modern is seemed. SkyDome was the future!

A few years later, it became clear SkyDome wasn't the future. SkyDome was a mistake. Baltimore, after all, opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992.

Now that SkyDome is 25-years old, can we finally tear it down and build something like this?

Oriole Park at Camden Yards


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Comments (41 - click here to join in!)

jamEs

I just can't see how we can dispense of the dome that quickly. The reality is they need to look at a doing a BC Place style reno/retrofit. Make it a baseball stadium and kick the Argos out(as I know is the plan). Add windows to the retractable shell. I know they want to put permanent grass in, then when it's spring and cold they would actually let natural light into the building while it's still cold. And eliminating a good chunk of metal from the structure could also cut down on the tin can aspect that everyone hates. Make it so you can open the windows without opening the whole Dome, so those days it's raining outside but warm it's not all recycled air. I have no idea how plausible these ideas are, but those are all challenges engineers and architects can figure out. Own the fact it's a technological terror and build something unique. Do those renos and rename it Rogers SkyDome and everyone would be happy.

June 3, 2014 @ 3:05 PM

@OldSouthKyle

In my opinion, we can't have an open air park taking up that kind of space downtown that serves a single purpose. Outdoor ball fields are just that, and pretty much that only. The enclosed Skydome allows for concerts, trade shows, etc during the cold winter months. But I do agree with you that there is nothing like a game in an open field!

June 3, 2014 @ 3:20 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@OldSouthKyle

Is the city full?

There's lots of space by the Port Lands.... and of course, Downsview Park...

BMO Field is in a great spot for it.

We could always stick it where SkyDome sits now.

Where there's a will, there's a way...

June 3, 2014 @ 3:28 PM

Derrick

Why is Skydome a mistake?

Protects fans from the elements, easy access to public transit, downtown, multi-purpose.

The major downsides is the concrete, making it look cold and cavernous; the astro-turf (which is to be fixed); and a average to poor team.

On a nice day, with the roof open, and a good team to watch, it's as enjoyable as any other stadium.

PNC Park and Progressive field will draw friends and family when the team isn't playing well - and spectators sit out in the cold in April/May and September.

Wanna improve the stadium? Put in grass, better team, lower the beer prices and add some craft beers.

June 3, 2014 @ 3:39 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Derrick

It's a big ugly chunk of concrete that lacks the splendour of the grass you'd get with a beautiful outdoor stadium. It was over the hill and in need of replacement by the time it was 10 years old.

Sure, it keeps the rain off your heads, but IMHO, that's an overrated quality.

June 3, 2014 @ 3:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

And I'm fine with the location, they can keep that. It's the stadium I hate.

June 3, 2014 @ 3:44 PM

Argie

I'm all for an old style ball park. Only one problem: who pays for it?

Does anyone think Rogers or any other company in Canada is going to lay out a billion for fickle Blue Jays to enjoy? Doubt it.

June 3, 2014 @ 3:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Argie

The one nice thing is that a classic outdoor stadium is quite a big less expensive than a SkyDome-type facility.

Didn't MLSE build the ACC with their own money?

I predict MLSE (Rogers, Bell, etc) ends up buying the Blue Jays and adding it to their collection of Toronto sports teams.

We're just spit balling here, but I'd bet MLSE get the Jays out of SkyDome ASAP. I don't know if that's a bigger overhaul of BMO Field or a new baseball-only facility.

June 3, 2014 @ 4:07 PM

Derrick

Keeping the rain off your heads is an overrated quality??? You're kidding, right?

When's the last time you paid money to watch an outdoor game in the rain? I did it once at BMO Field and it was horrible. Cold and wet don't mix. That's why there's a retractable roof in Seattle.

I took my daughter to a Junior Jays Saturday game two weekends ago. It was a beautiful day, plenty of fans. There was face painting and fun activities for her during the game. And the team won. We both had a blast. I didn't care what the stadium looked like as long as it was easy to get to, clean, I could see the game, and the seats were comfortable. Check, check, check and check. So why do we need to spend $1B to build a new stadium? And who will pay for it?

June 3, 2014 @ 4:08 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Derrick

Sure, you get the odd rain out, no doubt about it, but sports fans are used to that risk. It's baseball.

In my opinion, the SkyDome was a mistake. I suspect if they were building it a mere 5 years later it would look and be very different.

June 3, 2014 @ 4:10 PM

Gump

As someone who has been to 16 (and counting) major league baseball parks, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm from Toronto. I understand 'how' SkyDome happened, but when you're in the ballpark in Denver (the sun setting in the mountains), Cincinnati, Seattle (by the water), Baltimore (having a BBQ hot dog), Washington, Boston (Fenway!), Chicago (Wrigley!), New York, etc, you quickly understand that there is a far more enjoyable way to pass 3 hours watching the grass grow than in TO. Sure maybe Tampa Bay and/or Houston isn't great either, but we can do better.

June 3, 2014 @ 4:20 PM

jamEs

@Toronto Mike Rogers already does own the Blue Jays and is part of the group that owns MLSE with Bell, so the Jays are already in a way sided with MLSE.

There is no doubt the SkyDome was a mistake, but it's a rather unfair take. They built it when domes were still all the rage and built the most kickass dome the world had ever seen. Then the trend changed. It's tough to fault the team and governments of the time for not prognosticating a total change in the market. Rogers paid $25m for the building and should be able to afford to retrofit the building to last another 50 years if they plan it right.

June 3, 2014 @ 4:22 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@jamEs

I can see how it happened, in fact, I lived it, but in hindsight it was clearly a mistake.

@Gump

Yes, we can do better. The Dome had a good 25-year run. Let's correct the mistake.

June 3, 2014 @ 4:27 PM

this guest

change the name to 'flydome'
and let
david cronenberg
redesign it for an, uh,
'interesting' atmosphere

June 3, 2014 @ 4:55 PM

Matt

I do like open air stadiums better. I've seen games in Seattle and Cleveland as well. It just feels right. Sitting in the dome with the roof closed, I feel like I'm missing a part of it.

I don't like the roof closed even if it does make it more comfortable sometimes. Baseball is meant to be played outside and if I have to freeze in April its a small price to pay.

June 3, 2014 @ 8:20 PM

Corey

Skydome is always a mistake until it's a rainy, windy late-September evening game, or a freezing cold late November Argos game. No one seems to remember the campaign to build it to escape the conditions of Exhibition Stadium.
The Skydome as a sports venue is fine. Sightlines are good for both baseball and football. Yes, it`s best on a sunny day with the roof open, but I`ll take a closed roof over freezing temps and rain/snow any day.
It's interesting that no one complained about Skydome when the Jays were averaging 50k attendance for the first 5 years, or the Argos were averaging in the mid-thirties. It's like death in there when it's anything less than half full, but get a decent crowd, and the joint rocks.
Rogers isn't selling the Jays. Sports content is too valuable to them - the Jays provides a ton of it. They're investing millions in Skydome over the next couple years for the natural grass. Once that happens, and assuming the Jays continue to improve, no one will be complaining about the dome.

June 3, 2014 @ 9:21 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Here's the SkyDome Opening from 25 years ago tonight. Lots of cheese here.

June 3, 2014 @ 9:33 PM

Boomer

@Mike. I just skimmed through the Opening video. Wow that is beyond cheese!

June 3, 2014 @ 10:34 PM

Lynne

@Mike We went to Cleveland in July 2013 to catch the Jays playing the Indians. It felt like a real ballgame in a real ballpark. We would like to go to Baltimore next.

June 4, 2014 @ 8:48 AM

James Edgar

I don't love it or hate it.

That's probably a bad thing.

I can say that for non hardcore fans in Toronto a dome makes a lot of sense. There's no way I'd go to a game in crap weather if it was outside.

Argos yes . Jays no chance.

I think the renovation idea makes the most sense.

There's no way the politicians could get away with the kind of stupidity of building the Dome for $500 million and selling to rogers for $25 million.

We are probably still paying for it.

June 4, 2014 @ 8:58 AM

Argie

"There's no way the politicians could get away with the kind of stupidity of building the Dome for $500 million and selling to rogers for $25 million."

Yeah, or planning to build a gas plant in one part of the province and at the last minute moving it to secure 2 MPP seats despite costing the taxpayers a billion dollars. Yeah that could never happen again.

June 4, 2014 @ 9:16 AM


Nigel Trousershrapnel

The term "the mistake by the lake" was originally given to Cleveland Stadium, home of the Browns and the Indians until it was demolished in 1996. The field at the Ex was the only option when Toronto got the franchise and was never intended to be the long term home of the Jays. The Sky Dome was state of the art when it was constructed. Easy enough to say it was a mistake in hindsight, but it served the purpose for which it was built. I would think that selling it at $25 million would have been the greater error.
As for construction of a new facility, if you took the monies squandered by the Ontario Liberal government over the last ten years, you could build/construct three different baseball stadiums, pick the one you like best, tear down the other two and still have money left over.
To be fair, lost revenue from the sale of the 407 could have built a couple of dandy stadiums as well.

June 4, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

Mark H

Can we tear it down and build something new?

Short answer? No.

Long Answer: I think as a region we have a lot bigger problems than where the local ball team is going to play and if the MO of owners in the States is any indication, then Rogers would be asking for a huge chunk of public funding...funding we can not afford.

As it stands, while its not perfect, it has an ideal location and has held up pretty well. It would be a complete waste of money to build something new.

June 4, 2014 @ 10:13 AM

Cambo

If the sole purpose of SkyDome was to host football/baseball games, then yes. However the venue also hosts concerts, monster jams, cultural fairs and a vast amount of other indoor activities. It's a multi-purpose building where the Ex was pretty much limited. It holds triple the amount of people in the ACC. Advances in audio technology have made concerts much better. Having multiple venues operating at the same time is a plus. You can host concerts while not disrupting the basketball schedule.

The purpose of SkyDome is not just baseball.

June 4, 2014 @ 10:42 AM

Cambo

You also haven't actually said "WHY" it was a mistake. You've just said "it was a mistake".

June 4, 2014 @ 10:44 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Cambo

Sorry, I thought that was inferred by the reference to Camden Yards.

It was a mistake because 3 short years later we saw the type of stadium baseball should be played in. A cavernous chunk of concrete doesn't make a great ball field, and that became clearer in '92.

June 4, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

And to clarify, it was a mistake for baseball. I was referring to baseball specifically.

It might be perfectly fine for monster trucks.

June 4, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

Cambo

I think you're missing the point of exactly WHY the Dome was built- and it's because of our weather. With an open-air structure, it's essentially a brick for 6 months of the year. Do you really want taxpayer money to be spent on a structure that can only be effectively used for 6 months of the year?

Completely useless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Centre

The people wanted a dome, and a dome they got. So now your idea is to tear it down and expose everyone to the elements every spring and fall again??

Does it have problems? Sure. Every stadium does. However I'd rather see the money be spent on retrofitting the existing structure, not simply tearing it down as it does serve multiple purposes.

Remember Rogers owns it. The province/city cannot arbitrarily tear it down.

June 4, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

Derrick

@Mike,

You are making a very poor argument. Yes, Camden Yards is a much nicer place to watch baseball, but that doesn't make Skydome a "mistake". It makes it a less than ideal place to watch baseball when in comparison to other MLB stadiums.

June 4, 2014 @ 11:38 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Derrick

Just my opinion... I felt the same way 10 years ago.

June 4, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Andrew

As someone who works there close to 90 days a year from early spring to late fall a dome is the way to go... especially a dome that retracts. Why? Well, purely from a selfish point of view I don't have to worry about working in the elements, be it rain, snow or both. Wind isn't a factor or very minor when the lid is popped and we don't have weather delays or double headers to make up for lost time.

Is it pretty? No, but it's still the best solution we have. When the real grass comes in in 2018 or sooner the roof will be open a lot more and will be able to hand moisture which it can't do now (there is zero drainage on the FOP).

I've been to most of the ball parks in the American League and a few in the National League and sure there are some sweet parks around - Camden Yards and Diamondback Stadium are my faves - but I've had more rain delays in Baltimore than I ever care to have again.

I think it comes down to personal preferences. I like it for the fact I know that when I goto work I know we're playing baseball or football that day without any issues.

Cheers,
Andrew

June 4, 2014 @ 1:57 PM

CQ

Rogers "Center" is a mistake. Link: http://classicquarters.blogspot.ca/2011/10/re-er.html

The stadium itself is good. Any replacement will still have lousy over-priced food concessions, and staffers shooing fans out of the far corner seating sections - as happened to me when I last attended a Jays game. Lousy and loud gametime music, clumsily retooled uniform designs, plus Circus-like visual displays will never allow Toronto sports fans to experience a baseball game as we envy the Bostons of the (real) major leagues.
Too bad its first 10 rows don't roll up for the football configurations. Instead there is a tarp covering which kills away any sideline fan interaction. Football fans need to sit as angled higher up than for baseball. Too bad its built-in ice surface was never used for a hockey game.

June 4, 2014 @ 2:12 PM

Anon

I don't know why any of you are tying to reason with or use logic with Mike on this. Mike also thinks that street cars are better for Toronto because they "look cool" and "retro".

Forget that a subway handles more people, more efficiently, cost less over the life of it, disrupts traffic less and doesn't have the same weather issues as a streetcar, they are cool. looking.

Same goes for a baseball stadium owned by a corporation that doesn't pay it's fair share of taxes and basically stole the dome. It's 'cool" to sit outside at a baseball game. in April. in Toronto.

Want the outdoor baseball experience? Wait for summer or go to a game in Baltimore. in July. Want to watch a baseball game whenever it's being played, welcome to the beautiful Skydome. Don't like $17 hotdogs? Buy one outside and bring it in, you can bring in a closed (certain sized) soft drink too. Don't want to spend $55 on beer, buy a 70" flat screen TV and set it up in your back yard and invite everyone on this blog.

Rogers will never sell the BlueJays too much money in it for them. They will also never change the name to include "Skydome" as people will just call it "Skydome". Ref: Air Canada Centre, very few people call it the Air Canada Centre, it is most often referred to as the ACC. Don;t think that the executives at AC didn't notice and aren't happy about that.

June 4, 2014 @ 2:27 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Anon

"Mike also thinks that street cars are better for Toronto because they "look cool" and "retro"."

That's completely false. I've never thought nor said anything of the sort. Ever.

I have said, however, that LRT is different from streetcars. Because it is.

June 4, 2014 @ 3:26 PM

Corey

The first comment by James mentioned BC Place, which is a great example of what can be done with a dome. It's actually beautiful - creating more areas of the covering to allow more natural light in even when the roof is fully closed makes a huge difference. Ford Field in Detroit accomplished the same. I've wondered, after seeing the renos to BC Place if they could do something similar to Skydome.

June 4, 2014 @ 5:05 PM

Neville Ross
Now that SkyDome is 25-years old, can we finally tear it down and build something like this?

As Buffy would say, 'A world of NO.'

I like the SkyDome,I love the fact that we can screen out the rain and the snow, and I love the futuristic design of the thing-it reminds me of the Coliseum in Rome, and isn't just any crappy ball park thrown together that lets rain and other elements in that people love because 'it's a real ball park, and that's the way things are supposed to be.'

Lest we all forget, the SkyDome was built due to protests about the 'mistake by the lake' Exhibition Stadium, and that after a nasty rained out 1982 Grey Cup in which the toilets overflowed and people had to shit/pee into buckets or just hold it in until they got home, a massive protest was staged at City Hall demanding one. Why should we go back to the days of having a rained out (and snowed out) stadium? Just because people want to be a bunch of retroized zombies and act as if it's the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's and we're watching games in Fenway Park, and to show off to the Americans? Forget that shit, and frack that shit too: I like what we have, and hope that it's never torn down.

June 5, 2014 @ 5:46 PM

Cambo

Mike I'm not sure I understand your argument. Not good for baseball?

You remember they won the World Series there in 92 and 93 and are off to a record start this year!

I'd say it's perfect.

June 6, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

Moe

I think I read somewhere that the exterior of the stadium was supposed to be covered with blue panels.

But because of costs, it never happened. Hence the concrete appearance of the outside of the stadium.

Would be interesting to see what the 'Dome would've looked like in blue instead of grey.

June 6, 2014 @ 1:03 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Cambo

It's fine for baseball, it's not good for fans. Baseball is better in a real stadium.

We all loved the dome the first few years. It was new and exciting and our Jays were awesome. But 5 years later, the love affair was over.

June 6, 2014 @ 1:41 PM

AR

The SkyDome hate is becoming cliche. The stadium was a tour de force when it opened, and it's still the finest. Change the concessions, improve the finishes, but keep the stadium. Those old school stadiums are great too, but they seem so American. Skydome is a Canadian achievement, finally bringing the world a stadium with a fully retractable dome. The architecture is totally unique.

Skydome should only be improved and embraced. This is a town where no game ever needs to be cancelled because of weather, which is fantastic. The giant concrete shell seems monumental, though it could use some renovations to improve the atmosphere. When this team plays into the autumn, 54,000 people won't freeze their asses off.

June 6, 2014 @ 11:48 PM

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