Toronto Sports Stadiums Historic

What sports stadiums used to look like in Toronto

Despite the technological advancement of Toronto's biggest pro sports facilities — the Rogers Centre and the Air Canada Centre — there remains something to be said for what it was like to watch a game at the ballparks and arenas of the previous era. I hate to get wistful just for the sake of it, but modern stadiums tend to lack the unique character of their predecessors.

Case in point: there will never be as good a place to watch a hockey game as from the seats in the red balcony section at Maple Leaf Gardens, which seemed to place the viewer almost on top of the goaltender. Interestingly, those seats didn't exist when the building was first completed in 1931 but were added during one of the many renovations undertaken in the 1950s and 60s to increase seating capacity.

Nowadays, professional hockey arenas are all designed around the bowl concept, which leads to a certain homogeneity across the league. The same can't be said for baseball stadiums, which tend to be more varied, but be that as it may, the Rogers Centre isn't exactly the most intimate place to watch a game. I'll thus indulge in a little bit of longing for the "good old days," even though I wasn't around to take in a game at Maple Leaf Stadium, which looks like it was a prototypical urban ballpark.

Here's a look back at Toronto's stadiums and arenas of yore.

Sunlight Park

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Toronto's first baseball stadium, 1893

Hanlan's Point Stadium

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Lacrosse in 1910

Varsity Stadium

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Bloor Street and Bedford,1906

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Varsity, 1920

Varsity Arena

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The TTC hockey team, 1927

Christie Pits or Riverdale Park

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Pro hockey outdoors, 1912

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Boxing match, 1915

Mutual Street Arena

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Liberal Party meeting, 1913 (via the Wikimedia Commons)

Mutual Street Arena

Arena interior, 1920s

Civic Arena / The Coliseum

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Under construction 1921

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Interior, 1922

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Interior, 1922

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Interior, 1922

Maple Leaf Stadium

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Exterior, 1929

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Game action, 1937

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From Fort York

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From the bleachers (date unspecified)

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Crowds (date unspecified)

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Just prior to demolition

Maple Leaf Gardens

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A gem on Carlton in 1934

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Ice Show, late 1930s

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The Circus, 1940s

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Basketball, (ca. 1950s)

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Hockey game, Johnny Bower in goal

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Renovations, 1955

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New escalators! 1955

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Daryl Sittler, 1970s

CNE / Exhibition Stadium

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Harry Jerome, 1950

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Miss Toronto contest, 1951

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Queen Elizabeth II, 1959

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Exterior, 1959

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1980s (postcard)

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Seating Plan

SkyDome / Roger's Centre

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Plans, 1980s

SkyDome Toronto 1990s

The SkyDome in all its early glory (postcard)

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Photos from the Toronto Archives unless otherwise noted.


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