MUSIC - Between the wheels by Rush
Photographed in 1987, 1995 and 1996 using film.
Exhibition Stadium - Opened in 1948 (west side covered grandstand) August 5,1959 for football. Closed May 28, 1989. It was demolished in 1999. BMO soccer field built on the site
Location - Lake Shore Blvd. W., Ontario Dr. Toronto, Ontario. On the CNE grounds. Full name was the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium, or CNE Stadium.
Exhibition stadium came into prominence in 1977 with the birth of the Toronto Blue Jays of the American League. Actually, Exhibition stadium had been around since 1959. It was also the fourth stadium to be built on the same site. The stadium was located in the Exhibition place which houses the Canadian national exhibition every August.
When the Blue Jays came into being, the stadium was retrofitted if you will, to host baseball. It was originally built for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. The stadium had major problems for baseball. A lot of the seats down the right field line were miles away from the field. Some seats were in fact about 800 feet from home plate. Also, the winds off lake Ontario made games in the early part of the season miserable experiences. The stadium was not fancy by any stretch. The only roof was in the left field stands. The rest of the stadium was uncovered. BUT it was the Blue Jay's first home.
The first ever game for the Jays was a memorable event. On April 7, 1977, Exhibition stadium became the first ever park to host a baseball game where the entire field was covered in snow. For the record, the first game was also the Jays first victory ever. A crowd of 44,649 saw the Jays beat the Chicago White Sox 9-5. Jerry Johnson got the win in relief, and the late Doug Ault hit the first ever Blue Jays home run in the first inning. Richie Zisk of the White Sox had the honor of hitting the first home run at Exhibition stadium in the first inning also. He connected off the Jay's Bill Singer. The final game at Exhibition stadium was on May 28, 1989, ironically against the same Chicago White Sox. The Jays won the final game 5-3 before a crowd of 46,120. Tom "the Canadian goose" Henke got the win in relief. George Bell of the Jays hit a 2 run home run in the bottom of the tenth for the last ever home run at Exhibition stadium. Most fans were not sad to leave the "mistake by the lake." Howling winds, snow, fog, rain and seagulls bombarded many a Jays fan.
There was no all-star game played at Exhibition stadium, and only one playoff appearance in 1985. The Jays lost the pennant to the eventual world champion Kansas City Royals.
The second major tenant, well actually they were the first major tenant, were the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. They played at Exhibition stadium from its opening in 1959 thru the 1988 season. The stadium hosted the Grey cup twelve times during its 29 year run.
Exhibition stadium was not meant to be a permanent home for both the Jays and Argos. In 1989, the Skydome opened up right next to the CN tower in downtown Toronto. Exhibition stadium lay dormant for about 10 years, basically rotting a slow death in the harsh Ontario winters. Finally in February of 1999, Exhibition stadium was demolished. The site lay vacant for 6 years when in 2006 construction began on a soccer stadium. It was the fifth stadium built on the same plot of ground. BMO field opened in 2007 as the home for the Toronto FC of the MLS.
The original Hockey hall of fame was located directly behind the left field stands at Exhibition stadium. The hall was at Exhibition place from 1961 thru 1992, when the building was closed and the hall was moved to the former Bank of Montreal on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't comfortable, but it was major league. For 12 seasons, players and fans alike battled the elements and seagulls. It went out without much fanfare and lay decaying for almost a decade. Younger fans who go to the new BMO field probably don't even realize that the site was the former home to the Blue Jays and Argos. Exhibition stadium was part of baseball history, even if it was for a shot period of time.
A better view of the Argonauts offices. 3/87
Exhibition Stadium from the top of the CN Tower.
A grey day at Exhibiton stadium. The roller coaster to the right was demolished sometime in the 90's.
The Argonauts offices at Exhibition stadium. 3/87
Looking thru the centerfield fence at the left field stands. 3/87
The Blue Jays ticket booths off Lakeshore Blvd. 5/87
The same view 2 months later on a gameday. 5/87
The simple and small pressbox. The so called luxury boxes are at the bottom of the pressbox. 5/87
Looking down the rightfield line. You can see the seats in dead center are a mile away from home plate. 5/87
A panoramic shot behind home plate. The Jays are playing the Texas Rangers this May afternoon. 5/87
The small and simple pressbox, and the aluminum box seats. 5/87
Some of the luxury boxes if you will. 5/87
The covered stands in left field. 5/87
The scoreboard down the right field line. See how far back the bleachers go. Nice advertizing for the cameras I use too. 5/87
The grandstand in left. 10/87
The field is now taken over by the Argonauts of the CFL. 10/87
Looking at home plate. 10/87
The first base stands and Argos practice. 10/87
The seats in the left field stands. 10/87
More of the Toronto Argonauts practice and the CN tower in the background. 10/87
My last look at Exhibition stadium while in use. 10/87 The following photos will show abandonment and a slow death of a stadium.
Exhibition stadium on a cold rainy October day. Basically the stadium is abandoned. Now instead of a home for the Blue Jays, its a home for storage. 10/95
Looking under the scoreboard, you can see the astroturf is gone, and the field is a storage yard. 10/95
The Argos have long since left Exhibition stadium. You can still see the outline of the lettering. 10/95
The Jays ticket booths are now closed for good. 10/95
Looking at the scoreboard from down the third base line. 10/95
Junk is everywhere at Exhibition stadium. 10/95
The abandoned Hockey hall of fame building directly in back of the left field stands. 10/95 The building has since been demolished.
Rolls of astroturf that will never be used again. 10/95
The entrance to the bleachers in left field. 10/95
From the parking lot of Exhibition stadium, you can see the fog shrouded CN tower. 10/95
You can see the rust on the gates. Basically, the city of Toronto let the stadium decay. 10/95
The stands down the right field line on another snowy wet January day. 1/96
Inside Exhibition stadium. No astroturf, no infield, basically no nothing. 1/96
Boat storage have replaced George Bell and Jesse Barfield. 1/96
The scoreboard, now left to rust in the brutal winter. 1/96
The plastic seats in the left field bleachers. 1/96
You can see a giant budweiser logo on the concrete. God knows why. 1/96
The Blue Jays dugout down the third base line. 1/96
You can see how far away the seats are away from home plate. 1/96
Rain, snow, wind and seagulls have taken their toll on the pressbox. 1/96
The abandoned concession stands under the first base seats. No more Molson or Labatts will be poured here. 1/96
The visitors dugout. 1/96
The blue door is the entrance to the Jays old clubhouse. Not much left, just alot of debris. 1/96
Inside the abandoned Jays locker room. 1/96
If you close your eyes, you can picture Fred McGriff, Dave Steib, George Bell and Tom Henke getting ready for the game in here. 1/96
One final look at the old stadium. As you can see, it wasn't really fancy, but it was servicable. Many summer nights were spent here by loyal Jays and Argos fans. They dodged wind, rain, snow and the occasional seagull. Her life as a major league park was a relativly short one, BUT Exhibition stadium did have a place in baseball history. 1/96