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--Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher (in 1970 sounding like Charles Barkley)


Exhibition Stadium

By Wikipedia

Exhibition Stadium was a stadium that formerly stood at the Canadian National Exhibition 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.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Toronto, Ontario
Broke ground 1879
Opened 1959 (renovations)
Last Blue Jays Game May 28, 1989
Demolished February 1, 1999
Replaced by SkyDome
Owner City of Toronto
Surface Artificial Turf
Construction cost $17.6M (1976)
Blue Jays (MLB, 1977-1989)
Toronto Argonauts (CFL, 1959-1988)
Seating capacity
25,303 (1959)
38,522 (1977)
43,737 (1978)
Left Field - 330 ft
Left-Center - 375 ft
Center Field - 400 ft
Right-Center - 375 ft
Right Field - 330 ft
Backstop - 60 ft

While Major League baseball had already awarded the Canadian city of Montreal a franchise for the 1969 season, officials had to be concerned when the first regular season game every played at Exhibition (April 7,1977) also became the first (and, fortunately, only) game played on a field covered with snow. The stadium, parts of which date back to the Nineteenth century, was also the location of the only MLB game to be called off due to wind (April 30, 1984).

Although stadiums had stood on the site since 1879, a massive reconstruction that took place in the late 1950s gave us the stadium Blue Jays fans sat in. The renovation resulted in a large grandstand on one side of the field and temporary stands on the other, increasing the capacity to 25,303.

The stadium was rebuilt again in the mid-Super70s to allow the expansion Toronto Blue Jays to play at the Ex, building 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 apparently the only major league baseball stadium where the bleachers were covered but the main grandstand was not.

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. Because of the known problems with weather, Exhibition Stadium was only intended to be a stop-gap measure until a domed stadium could be built closer to the 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.

Exhibition Stadium lay mostly dormant over the following decade, except for the occasional concert or minor sporting event. It was demolished in 1999 and the site is now a parking lot. A few chairs from the stadium can be found on the northwest corner.

On October 26, 2005, the City of Toronto is expected to approve a $60 million (Canadian) to build a new 20,000 seat stadium in the same spot where the old Stadium once was. The governments of Canada and Ontario will combine for $35 million, with the City paying $9.8 million, and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment paying the rest, plus the runoff coats. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment will get the naming rights of the new stadium, and will have a Major League Soccer team in the new Stadium by 2007 or 2008. The Stadium will also hold the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship along with other cities in Canada.

It is the only stadium in which a game was called for wind (April 30, 1984). Also the first game played here (April 7, 1977) was the only one ever played in Major League Baseball with snow covering the entire field.

04/07/1977 White Sox 5, Blue Jays 9
Umpires Nestor Chylak, Joe Brinkman
  Rich Garcia, Steve Palermo
Managers Roy Hartsfield, Blue Jays
  Bob Lemon, White Sox
Starting Pitchers Bill Singer, Blue Jays
  Ken Brett, White Sox
Ceremonial Pitch Ten children
Attendance 44,649
Batter Ralph Garr (walk)
Hit Richie Zisk (home run)
Run Ralph Garr
RBI Jorge Orta
Single Jim Spencer
Double Richie Zisk
Triple Ron LeFlore (04/12/1977)
Home Run Richie Zisk
Grand Slam Hector Torres (06/27/1977)
IPHR Cecil Cooper (05/05/1977)
Stolen Base Ralph Garr
Sacrifice Hit Jim Mason
Sacrifice Fly Jorge Orta
Cycle Kelly Gruber (04/16/1989)
Win Jerry Johnson
Loss Ken Brett
Shutout Fergie Jenkins (04/24/1977)
Save Pete Vuckovich
Hit by Pitch Bob Stanley hit Bob Bailor (04/25/1977)
Wild Pitch Bill Singer (04/12/1977)
Balk Dave Rozema (04/11/1977)
No-Hitter (None)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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Postcard courtesy of LCPC.

Year by Year statistics: for Exhibition Stadium

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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