exhibition stadium toronto blue jays

Baseball players actually loved Toronto's famously-hated Exhibition Stadium

Old-timer baseball fans in Toronto will regale the younger generation with horror stories about the fan experience during the Blue Jays' first dozen seasons at the former Exhibition Stadium, but one of the team's legends has come out as an outspoken defender of the stadium's legacy almost a quarter-century after its demise to the wrecking ball.

Most people today will tell you that Exhibition Stadium was a band-aid solution to another band-aid solution, and hardly worthy of the fledgling MLB franchise it supported from 1977 to 1989.

It was cold, uncomfortable, exposed to the elements, and infested with seagulls. Its layout was clearly not designed with baseball in mind, and the fan experience was lacking at best.

Some have even co-opted the former Cleveland Stadium moniker of "The Mistake on the Lake" to refer to the lost stadium, a term Blue Jays legend and former outfielder Jesse Barfield argues against.

Barfield, who spent 1981 to 1989 with the Toronto Blue Jays, was present through the majority of the team's Exhibition Stadium era, and he's spent years asserting that, despite your miserable memories of the windswept stadium, it wasn't all that bad.

Other past MLB names have joined in defending Exhibition Stadium as a great place to play baseball, including former Kansas City Royals pitcher Mark Gubicza, who played in the 1985 ALCS against the Jays and would go on to win a World Series that year.

Former MLB pitcher and current television baseball analyst Dan Plesac (who would play for the Jays in the late '90s SkyDome era) remembers Exhibition Stadium more for its inhospitable conditions than positive things like the volume of raucous fans.

But many fans have taken to the comments section in agreement that Exhibition Stadium was, despite the prevalent narrative on the multipurpose facility's failed legacy, actually pretty awesome.

The cold, miserable conditions by the lake, and frequent rain delays, are actually remembered kind of fondly by some.

Even the ballpark's roaming food vendors have a special place in fans' memories.

Exhibition Stadium would survive another decade after the Jays' departure for the dome. Demolished in 1999, its footprint remains visible today in the shadow of BMO Field. You can even still run the bases where Jesse Barfield used to snipe runners with cannon-like throws from right field.

Lead photo by

Robert Taylor

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