Saturday, May 15, 2010

Toronto's Rogers Centre remains an attraction
I wrote about New York City's two new baseball stadiums last month, so I thought I should let people who take holidays to Canada know about Toronto's Rogers Centre.
The retractable-roofed stadium formerly known as SkyDome opened in the summer of 1989 and has since hosted more than 2,000 events and 60 million people. The prime tenant is the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, which used to regularly draw more than 50,000 people to games when it was winning World Series' in the early '90s. The Jays aren't what they used to be, and now attract an average crowd of well under 20,000 to games.
Some people blame the stadium as one of the main reasons for the decline, and the impersonal concrete structure certainly doesn't hold the same appeal as the more charming retro-styled ballparks that have been built over the past 20 years — including the two aforementioned NYC stadiums, Baltimore's Camden Yards, Pittsburgh's PNC Park, Detroit's Comerica Park, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and Cleveland's Progressive Field.
Retractable-roofed stadiums have become more common in the past two decades, but the Rogers Centre remains a model for architects and engineers to learn from. And while locals now largely take the stadium for granted, it remains one of Toronto's top tourist attractions and many people who witness the 20-minute transformation from enclosed to open air venue (or vice versa) for the first time still marvel at it. 
The 11,000-tonne roof is divided into four sections, three of which move. When it's closed, a 31-storey building located in the centre field area could fit underneath it. Eight Boeing 747 jets can comfortably fit on the field when it's in baseball mode.
The Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League also play at the Rogers Centre, as do the National Football League's Buffalo Bills as part of an agreement whereby the team plays at least one game a year in Toronto. The stadium also hosts major concerts and a variety of other events.
Even if you don't attend a game or some other happening, the Rogers Centre offers one-hour guided tours that cost $10 for children, $12 for youths and seniors and $16 for adults. Tour stops include a recently renovated museum featuring a model of the Rogers Centre, memorabilia from past events and a multi-screen video wall showcasing highlights from the facility's history. Visitors can also check out the Blue Jays Hall of Fame, a press box and a luxury suite.
If you find you like the Rogers Centre enough, you can stay at the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel, which offers a number of rooms overlooking the field. Many of the city's top attractions — including the CN Tower and Hockey Hall of Fame — are located within a few blocks.

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