Exhibition Stadium Memoirs

For those of you who may not remember, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t always play out of the “Rogers Centre.” Long before that they played in a converted football stadium known as Exhibition Stadium.  The Ex was on the site of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) right on Toronto’s lakeshore. The Jays played there from 1977-1989.

Exhibition Stadium was problematic for hosting baseball. Like most multi-purpose stadiums, the outfield seats were far from the field. This was magnified by the fact that Canadian football fields are 30 yards longer, and considerably wider, than American football fields. Combined with the vaguely horseshoe-shape of the stadium, this resulted in many of the seats down the right field line and in the bleachers in right-centre being extremely far from the infield; they actually faced each other rather than the action. In fact, some seats were as far as 820 feet from home plate — the farthest such distance of any stadium ever used as a principal home field in the majors.

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 major league game ever played with the field covered entirely by snow.

One interesting note about Exhibition Stadium is that  it was the only baseball stadium ever built with a roof over the bleachers but none over the grandstand.  It might be one of the worst ballparks ever used for baseball.  Anyway, I toiled away learning how to edit video and convert files from VHS to DVD to put together this memoir of Exhibition Stadium:

That familiar voice you hear is none other than that of Tom Cheek.

Unfortunately, there are no remnants of Exhibition Stadium since it was demolished in February 1999.

Exhibition Stadium

has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • http://www.mopupduty.com Kman

    Re: Double Steal around 1:20 – “I just wanted to make a video for the kids on how to do things twice and be successful at doing so.” Mosby = stud!

  • mathesond

    Love the video. Saw my first game at the Ex in ’77, when I was 7. All I remember is that Cleveland won 4-0. My favourite time there was a doubleheader vs. the Yankees in August ’83, when the Jays were in 1st place. They won the first game 10-9, when Iorg scored from 2nd on a single (I can’t remember who hit it) – he ran through Jimy Williams’ stop sign. The place was electric, even in my seats in section 50 (out of 51) in the grandstand. Jays rolled 13-6 in the nightcap, but alas, that was the same year of the Tippy Martinez 3-pickoffs-in-the-10th-inning game, and they finished in 4th. But man, I loved those teams!

  • Early

    BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, now sits on the site of Exhibition Stadium.

    This is the third stadium to occupy the site.

  • Mark

    Thanks for posting this video. I have LOADS of childhood memories of Exhibition stadium!

  • Mark

    I do miss the days when stadiums were named creatively instead of corporately.

    Montreal Forum
    Exhibition Stadium
    Skydome
    Maple Leaf Gardens

    Also missing were the advertisements all over the outfield walls ;)

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  • otto

    There are some blue seats from Exhibition Stadium placed just over the bridge from Ontario Place. They claim to be situated where the stadium was but they’re pretty far from BMO field.
    Saw a lot of games with my dad thanks to the $1 bleacher seats from Dominion.

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  • http://www.roodsmedia.com Peter Rood

    I worked for Black & McDonald on the CNE Grounds for 4 years. between 1995-1999. I saw a lot change. At one point we worked out of the North Grandstand for a year. New BMO field doesn’t actually sit in the same spot as the stadium. BMO field is a little farther north (and a smaller facility). It actually sits on top of the old Hockey Hall of Fame. That was torn down at the same time as the stadium. If you enter BMO field from the west side you will see the mosaic tile artwork with the NHL Teams of the time from the original HHOF. Also, when you park in the lot south of BMO field there is a marker in the ground that represents the location of home plate from Exhibition Stadium. The CNE Grounds is full of stuff like that…. you just have to walk around down there and read the signs that are posted. Plenty of history. Cheers.

    • http://Torontofc.ca Torontotonto

      Being a SSH at BMO (TFC) since it started in 2007, my son and I noticed the first marker in the south parking lot at halftime.
      We both spent many days at Ex stadium.

      Seen that but walked 90 degrees and found 1st than 2nd and 3rd bases. They are all marked.

      Just posting because this came up in a conversation tonight during the Jays vs NYY game.

      Googled it and this was the only reference, thought there would have been more people that would have noticed these markers over the years.