Exhibition Stadium

Exhibition Stadium, located in Toronto, Ontario, holds a special place in the annals of Canadian baseball history. As the first home of the Toronto Blue Jays, this multifunctional stadium witnessed the burgeoning of Major League Baseball (MLB) in Canada, making it an important landmark in the sport’s expansion beyond the United States.

Stadium Facts about Exhibition Stadium

  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Opened On: April 7, 1977
  • Closed On: May 28, 1989
  • Home Team: Toronto Blue Jays (American League), 1977–1989
  • Stadium Nicknames: “The Ex”
  • Dimensions: Left Field – 330 feet, Center Field – 400 feet, Right Field – 330 feet
  • Capacity: Varied over time, approximately 43,000 for baseball
  • Attendance Record: 47,356 (Opening Day, 1977)
  • Surface: Grass (1977-1979), AstroTurf (1980-1989)
  • Architect: Various, due to multiple renovations
  • Owner: City of Toronto

The History

Exhibition Stadium’s history is deeply intertwined with the birth and early years of the Toronto Blue Jays, an expansion team that brought MLB to Canada’s largest city. Opening in 1977, the stadium was initially greeted with great fanfare and optimism. It served not only as a sports venue but as a symbol of Toronto’s burgeoning status as a major North American city.

Originally built for Canadian football and other events, Exhibition Stadium underwent significant modifications to become suitable for baseball. Its tenure as a baseball stadium was marked by the challenges of adapting a multi-use facility to the specific needs of MLB, setting the stage for the eventual move to the purpose-built SkyDome.

Design and Features

Exhibition Stadium’s design reflected its multi-purpose nature. For baseball, the layout was somewhat unconventional, with quirky angles and seating arrangements due to its original design for football and other events. This setup often resulted in less-than-ideal sightlines for baseball fans and exposed many spectators to the harsh elements, notably the cold winds off Lake Ontario.

The stadium’s most significant feature was its open-air concept, which provided an authentic outdoor experience. However, this feature also presented challenges, particularly in the early and late months of the baseball season, when weather conditions could be less than ideal for both players and fans.


Over its lifespan as a baseball stadium, Exhibition Stadium underwent various renovations to improve its functionality for baseball. These included the addition of seats more suited for baseball viewing, enhancements to the locker rooms and press areas, and the installation of AstroTurf in 1980, replacing the original grass surface.

Despite these efforts, the limitations of retrofitting a multi-purpose stadium for baseball became increasingly apparent, especially as newer, baseball-specific stadiums began to set higher standards for fan comfort and amenities.


The facilities at Exhibition Stadium were reflective of its era and multi-use design. The concessions offered traditional sports fare, while the seating and amenities were functional but not luxurious. The stadium was known for its expansive parking and relatively easy access, making it a convenient destination for sports fans.

The lack of cover and exposure to the elements was a notable aspect of the stadium’s facilities, often commented upon by both fans and players. Despite these challenges, Exhibition Stadium provided a memorable and unique environment for watching baseball.

Memorable Moments at Exhibition Stadium

  • Inaugural Game: The Blue Jays’ first game in 1977, marking the arrival of MLB in Toronto.
  • First Home Run: Doug Ault’s memorable home runs during the inaugural game.
  • 1985 Division Title: Hosting games during the Blue Jays’ first playoff run.
  • Dave Stieb’s No-Hitters: Memorable pitching performances by one of the franchise’s most celebrated players.
  • Closing Game: An emotional farewell to the stadium in 1989, as the team prepared to move to the SkyDome.

Interesting Baseball History at Exhibition Stadium

  • The Growth of the Blue Jays: The stadium witnessed the development of the Blue Jays from an expansion team to a contender.
  • International Expansion of MLB: Represented MLB’s successful expansion into Canada.
  • Weather Challenges: The impact of the stadium’s open-air design and location on the game.
  • Cultural Impact: The role of Exhibition Stadium in fostering a baseball culture in Canada.

Non-Baseball Events

Exhibition Stadium was a venue for various events beyond baseball, underscoring its role as a multi-purpose facility. It hosted Canadian football games, including the CFL’s Grey Cup, concerts, and large-scale public events, making it an integral part of Toronto’s cultural and entertainment scene. These events highlighted the stadium’s versatility and importance as a landmark in Toronto.