Paved Paradise


Check it out: The Canadian National Exhibition was founded in 1879 to encourage the development of agriculture, manufacturing, industry, commerce and the arts. Over the past 127 years the CNE has grown to be the largest annual fair in Canada and the fourth largest in North America with an average attendance of 1.4 million visitors annually.

As a kid, I used to go the Ex many times over the course of it's three week run. The Toronto Blue Jays played on the grounds at Exhibition Stadium before the dread Rogers Centre (nee Skydome) was built and you could gain entrance to the fair with your ball ticket. In those days you could get a general admission ticket good for any game of the season for $4. You could get those half price at Dominion Supermarket. Imagine, for $2 a whole day at the fair and a ball game. It jars me to think of it. There really were good ol' days...

Exhibition Stadium was a complete hole. Concrete. Astroturf. Bad lighting. Built for football. Just awful. And how I loved it. Oh, and how I miss it. I still feel as though I could weep with nostalgia every single time I walk by the parking lot that exists where it once stood. I close my eyes and I can smell the hot dogs, hear the crowd and the crack of the bat. I can feel the breeze blowing off of Lake Ontario and see the seagulls flying overhead. I'm like an amputee who thinks they can still feel their legs when I stand in that parking lot.

I loath Skydome. To me, Skydome is like the evil stepmother who never really thought about me the same way she did her own children. Skydome punishes me unnecessarily with it's multi-purpose facility fa├žade and cramped seats. Skydome mocks me and makes me scrub the metaphorical floor.

Time marches on and we all grow up. Visiting Yankee Stadium was a pilgrimage, as close to a religious experience as I will ever have. But Exhibition Stadium was home. My childhood and innocence crumbled with it the day they knocked it to the ground in favour of a parking lot.

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