Since 1989 the Toronto Blue Jays have called the concrete mausoleum with a retractable roof on the shores of Lake Ontario home. Toronto’s favourite monstrosity was designed by architect Rod Robbie and structural engineer Michael Allen, and took approximately 2 and a half years to build at the cost of $570 million ($913 million in 2013 dollars).
In a time before stadium naming rights became a hot commodity, a stadium of this magnitude needed a name to match its vastness. So in 1987 the Toronto Sun sponsored a “name the stadium” contest, where the people of Ontario could submit their suggested name, with a prize of lifetime seats behind home plate to all events at the stadium, including concerts, for the winner (Side note: awesome prize).
The Sun received over 150,000 entries to the contest, of which there were 12,897 unique names. Combing through the submissions the selection committee named 4 finalists: : “Towerdome”, “Harbourdome”, “SkyDome”, and simply “the Dome”.
As we all know, the name SkyDome was selected, and Toronto’s state of the art stadium was known was such for the next 16 years. During a press conference to announce the name, Chuck Magwood, the President of the Stadium Corporation of Ontario, had this to say about the name:
"“The sky is a huge part of the whole roof process. The name has a sense of the infinite and that’s what this is all about.”"
16 years after one of the most unintentionally hilarious television spectacles in Canadian history , Rogers Communications acquired the SkyDome from Sportsco (who now owned The Dome) for about $25 million – about 4% of the cost of construction. Shortly after the purchase, it was announced the SkyDome name would be entering retirement in favour of a corporate branding on part of Rogers. Much to the chagrin of Blue Jays fans across Canada, the SkyDome was replaced by the unbelievably bland sounding Rogers Centre.
It’s been 20 years since the Toronto Blue Jays last took place in post season baseball, so you can excuse us Jays fans for being a bit nostalgic. First, they took the blue out of Blue Jays, saddling our franchise with perhaps the worst jerseys in professional sports; they followed that up with taking the Sky out of our Dome; all of this combined with the lack of results on the field led for a rather disgruntled fan base.
Then something wonderful happened. The Blue Jays seemingly did something savvy. After dismissing their failed Moneyball disciple J.P. Ricciardi, instead of hiring a baseball retread, the Blue Jays hired a young, dynamic, “new-school” Canadian GM in Alex Anthopolous, whom immediately began making waves both on the roster, and throughout the rest of the franchise.
In November of 2011, the Blue Jays were once again blue, as the team introduced a new set of threads that hinted at the past but pointed towards the future.
A year later in November of 2012, the Blue Jays made perhaps the biggest offseason splash in franchise history acquiring Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Emilio Bonifacio, and Jose Reyes from the Miami Marlins, signalling that the team was ready to spend in order to contend (not that it’s worked out, but still).
That brings us to 2013. The one thing that was taken away from us that needs to be returned. That concrete monstrosity that sits in between Front Street and Bremner Boulevard on the Toronto Lakeshore while still colloquially referred to as “the Dome” or “SkyDome” still, needs to be made official.
Enter the grassroots campaign Bring Back the Dome. This group is attempting to organize the voices of Toronto Blue Jays fans that want to see the return of the Dome. The group is trying to get 50,000 Likes on its Facebook page in order to show the people of Rogers Communications that this is something that has meaning for us (although after erecting that monstrosity of a sculpture to honour Ted Rogers, I’m afraid they might be too tone deaf to head our calls).
While times have clearly changed, and corporate sponsorship is something that cannot be avoided in stadium naming, a compromise can surely be reached. The stadium will never again be “The SkyDome” but it also deserves better than the boring moniker “The Rogers Centre”. Would it be such a terrible compromise for the multibillion dollar corporation that gouges us on our cable, internet, and cell phone bills to give us the “Rogers SkyDome”?