Itinerant Fan

Rogers Centre

These days, Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, stands out more as an anomaly in the MLB ballpark scene. It’s a behemoth among intimate venues; it’s round and symmetrical whereas others are often lauded for their quirks and uniqueness; and it’s one of the few parks in the majors using an artificial playing surface.

So it might be easy to think of the place as outdated and not worth visiting, but let’s not forget that some 30 years ago it came onto the scene as a marvel — the first in North American sports to have a retractable roof and the first to have a hotel built in with rooms overlooking the field. And you could make a case that of all the venues of that era to have “____dome” as its name, “SkyDome” was the coolest name out there.

Then, a couple years after moving in, the Blue Jays won back-to-back titles — still the only championships in their history — and SkyDome became a happening place to be. 

Times change, cooler retractable-roof stadiums have come along and corporate naming rights did away with the “SkyDome” name several years back. But despite an ensuing dry spell that lasted more than 20 years, the Blue Jays made it back to the postseason in 2015, showing again what baseball fandom in Toronto could be like.

The quality of baseball being played within its confines is just one of many reasons to visit Rogers Centre, and not just because it’s the only place north of the border at which you can catch major-league ball.

For more on visiting Toronto, check out our Toronto city guide.


The approach: Getting to Rogers Centre

If you’re within 10 miles of downtown Toronto on a clear day, finding Rogers Centre is easy — just head toward the tall needle-like thing right next to it. Yes, the ballpark is near the heart of downtown, in the shadow of the famed CN Tower (if you’re a visitor to Toronto you’ll no doubt want to head up to the tower’s observation deck, at which point you can just glance downward for a bird’s-eye view of Rogers Centre).

The stadium is separated from the rest of downtown by train tracks leading to nearby Union Station, so the most direct approach by foot is via a pedestrian bridge from Front Street that leads to the plaza between it and CN Tower.

As is common for a downtown venue, visitors will likely find it easy to take public transit to the game. Toronto’s subway system has a stop at Union Station some four blocks away (the bottom of the “U” on the Yonge-University-Spadina line), and the city’s less-well-known streetcar system runs along Spadina Avenue, a couple blocks west.

Parking options in the area include a structure adjacent to the stadium and private lots in the many high-rise buildings that have sprung up in the surrounding lots. For bargains, venture deeper into downtown and enjoy a nice stroll to the park. Check out this link for updated parking information.

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The build-up: Things to do around Rogers Centre

It wasn’t that long ago that there wasn’t a whole lot around Rogers Centre or the CN Tower — downtown Toronto, for all intents and purposes, stopped at Front Street. That changed with the construction of the Air Canada Centre (now known as Scotiabank Arena) a few blocks to the east, spurring construction of many high-rise residences in the area and in turn bringing restaurants, bars and other businesses to the area as well.

So there’s no shortage of pregame imbibing options in the area, if not between the stadium and arena, then try north of Front Street, where numerous eateries that cater to the workaday crowd during the daytime also stand to serve hungry Blue Jays fans in the evening.

Don’t forget the other major sports attraction in the vicinity: The Hockey Hall of Fame, which is a short walk away on the corner of Yonge and Front streets.

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Rogers Centre Toronto Blue Jays

The ambiance: Watching a game at Rogers Centre

Rogers Centre is a huge concrete structure with huge concrete pillars in an era where ballparks considered to have the most charm are made of brick and exposed steel. So “charming” isn’t a word often used to describe the old SkyDome.

But its design was meant to inspire awe, and so rather than looking for the charm, Rogers Centre is worth seeing for such features as the retractable roof and the giant center-field videoboard that at one point was the largest in the majors.

Not surprisingly for a place so large, there is a 500-level at Rogers Centre (the 100- and 200-levels being the first two levels, and 300- and 400-levels being premium seating and luxury suite areas). That, of course, would suggest the seats in the 500-level are literally sky-high — and, indeed, the seats in highest reaches of the stadium can feel impossibly far from the field — but on the other hand, you’d have a close-up view of the mechanisms that control the retractable roof.

As for food options, Rogers Centre’s concessions are as varied as many ballparks offer up nowadays, with such Canadian offerings as poutine, smoked meat sandwiches, Tim Hortons (of course!) and pizza from local chain Pizza Nova available among the standard hamburgers, hot dogs and the like. The Pittsburgh hot wings chain Quaker Steak and Lube also has a location at Rogers Centre, strangely enough.

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    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Toronto Blue Jays

    Address
    1 Blue Jays Way
    Toronto, ON M5V 1J1

    Year Opened
    1989

    Capacity
    54,000

    Upcoming Events
    All times local
    Lady Gaga
    Sunday, August 9, 2020
    7:30 pm
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    Justin Bieber with Kehlani and Jaden Smith
    Thursday, September 10, 2020
    3:30 am
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    BTS
    Sunday, May 30, 2021
    3:30 am
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    BTS
    Monday, May 31, 2021
    3:30 am
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    Guns N' Roses with The Smashing Pumpkins
    Tuesday, July 13, 2021
    3:30 am
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