Exhibition Stadium was a stadium that formerly stood on the Exhibition Place
grounds in Toronto, Ontario. Originally built for Canadian football and other
events, the stadium was reconfigured in the mid-1970s, and served as the home of
the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team from 1977-1989. It also served
as the home of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian football team from 1959-1988.
The stadium hosted the Grey Cup game twelve times over a 24 year period.
Stadiums had stood on the site since 1879, but a massive reconstruction took
place in the late 1950s, building a large grandstand on one side of the field, and
temporary stands on the other. When reopened in 1959, the stadium sat 25,303.
The stadium was rebuilt again in the 1970s to allow the expansion Toronto Blue
Jays to play there, with additional seating opposite the large grandstand now in left
field on the first base side and curving around to the third base side. It was the
only MLB stadium where the bleachers were covered but the main grandstand was
The Mistake by the Lake, Part II
Exhibition Stadium was problematic for hosting Major League Baseball. Because of the large field needed for Canadian football and the
vaguely horseshoe-shape of the stadium, many of the seats down the right field line and in the bleachers in right-center were extremely far
from the infield and faced each other rather than the action. 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, 1977 was the only MLB game ever played with the field
covered entirely by snow. Conditions at the stadium led to another odd incident that first year, when on September 15, Baltimore Orioles
manager Earl Weaver became frustrated with field conditions; in a move right out of the 19th Century, he pulled his team off the field in mid-
game, garnering a win by forfeit for the Jays. An April 30, 1984 game had to be cancelled due to high wind - the only such game in modern
MLB history. Because of the variable climate and the stadium's multiple tenants, the stadium's surface was AstroTurf instead of natural grass.
Because of these problems, Exhibition Stadium was intended to be a stop-gap solution until a domed stadium could be built closer to
Toronto's downtown. The decision to build a retractable roof stadium - the first in North America - along with engineering and cost questions
meant that SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) was not completed until 1989.
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 Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield was arrested on August 4, 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 Martin to 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.