At Grantland, Jonah Keri began ranking ballpark experiences from throughout the Majors, with our little concrete mausoleum coming in way down at number 21. That’s actually ahead of both of the new New York stadiums in his mind’s eye, but… that doesn’t mean the bottom-third ranking looks pretty.
Then again, he doesn’t entirely hate the building, noting that it’s “perfectly pleasant when the roof’s open, and isn’t far from the bars and restaurants lining vibrant King and Queen Streets in downtown Toronto. Still, neither[ it nor Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field is] a stadium around which you’d want to plan a big road trip.”
It’s really not such a bad review, actually. And not entirely off base, either, though I’d suggest that some mention of the atrociously ugly layer of thin felt on top of the leg-destroying concrete wouldn’t have been out of line.
Keri doesn’t just stop at current stadiums, either, sprinkling in a few former facilities, including one that makes you wonder how the hell baseball even took off in this damn town: the Ex, which he ranks dead last.
“The only time I ever left a game as early as the third inning without a rainout happened here,” he explains. “If you ever went to the Ex on a broiling summer day, you know why: The place was stuffed with metal benches that absorbed heat and cooked your entire body when you sat on them.”
So… I guess it could be worse?
Actually… yeah! It could totally be worse! Shit, it almost makes me want to Share the Dream and buy my very own piece of the material the roof is made of– nested in a mini-dome with fact-filled brochure and souvenir chocolate medallion!
Uh… not sure what the hell I’m talking about? It’s the atrocity in the clip below– a tiny square of metal being hawked for $9.95 a pop, “and certainly something that over two million visitors wouldn’t want to be without”– which comes by the way of the Atlantic Cities, who took some time this week to reflect on the early days of the world’s first retractable roof stadium, mostly in the form of absurd YouTube clips about the marvel of engineering, and the rather ludicrous, cheesy fanfare it was met with in the beginning.
Apologies if you have one of these things still floating around in a junk drawer or something, but… yikes. And the Alan Thicke-hosted musical celebration of the building’s opening– which I’m sure we’ve all seen, and is also included in the Atlantic Cities piece– just couldn’t possibly have aged worse if they fucking tried.
Almost like the building itself! Although, it’s not like being housed in such an uninspiring facility is what has been keeping the Jays’ attendance down for all these years. It’s entirely about the team and the expectations, as I believe we can see from a report on changes in attendance across MLB that came out this week from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The Blue Jays, though not playing particularly well, rode the wave of expectations to pack a lot more bodies into their building through the first third of the 2013 stadium. Only the Orioles, Nationals and Dodgers saw bigger increases in attendance than the 3,886 person rise in average attendance the Jays have seen. And this happened while eighteen teams in the Majors have seen their attendance slip– some *COUGH* Miami Marlins *COUGH* by as many as 10,000 fans per game.
So… cheers, SkyDome, on your first twenty-four years! You’re… uh… not that big a detriment to the enjoyment of Major League Baseball in this city!