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Raising the roof at SkyDome

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Is SkyDome "an overpriced playground" or is it "worth every penny"? The people of Toronto -- and a few tourists -- all have opinions on the city's new $500 million stadium. SkyDome will be home to the Blue Jays and the Argonauts and will host rock concerts, Broadway musicals and operas. In this CBC special, the building's retractable dome draws the most attention. "The roof?" remarks one man. "Well, I hope it works."

Roof designer Michael Allen has no doubts everything will run smoothly. In a segment with the CBC's Brian Williams, Allen uses a large architect's model to demonstrate how the roof retracts. "It's gonna be great," he assures Williams.
• SkyDome opened -- literally -- on June 3, 1989, with a gala celebration hosted by Canadian entertainer Alan Thicke. The event was broadcast the following evening on CBC Television.
• Other performers at the gala included Andrea Martin of SCTV, pianist Oscar Peterson, musical impersonator André-Phillippe Gagnon and rock band Glass Tiger.

• Premier David Peterson of Ontario, accompanied by the strains of the Toronto Symphony, opened the roof with a ceremonial laser beam.
• When the roof opened, rain poured in. Gala organizers and the CBC's Brian Williams thought it would close again, but developer Chuck Magwood insisted it open all the way. "We didn't work this hard this long to scratch the main attraction," he told newspapers later.

• Though many of the 50,000 spectators were drenched, quite a few brought umbrellas. Some people shouted "close it, close it!" during the finale.
• The show's opening musical number featured Alan Thicke and Andrea Martin performing a tribute to SkyDome. They were joined by four men in Blue Jays uniforms singing: "Take us into the ballgame, take us in with the crowd / We may not win but there's one sure bet / Though we get clobbered we'll never get wet!"

• Four days later a Blue Jays game was halted while the roof closed during a sudden storm. It was the first rain delay in a domed stadium.
• For its first five years, thanks in part to a two-time World Series-winning baseball team, SkyDome was close to full for most events. Nevertheless it was awash in debt; one estimate said it would have to be in use 600 days a year to pay all its debts.

• In 1994 the stadium, which had been owned by a public-private partnership, was sold to private investors for $151 million.
• When the corporation that built SkyDome was formed in 1985, it projected a cost of $150 million to build the stadium. Two years later it decided to add a hotel and health club, driving up the price. Construction delays and overtime brought the final tally to over $500 million.

• In May 2004 the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League announced they were leaving SkyDome for a new outdoor stadium owned by the University of Toronto, but as of 2014 they were still playing in the dome (which was renamed for a telecommunications company in 2005).
• The stadium remains the home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
• The attendance record for SkyDome was set on March 17, 2000, with an audience of 68,237 people for WrestleMania 18.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Special
Broadcast Date: June 4, 1989
Guest(s): Michael Allen
Host: Brian Williams
Duration: 3:40

Last updated: June 4, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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