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Hard Rock Cafe Leaving Rogers Centre After 20 Years

It has been there since Paul Molitor got the very first hit, a double for the visiting Milwaukee Brewers back in 1989.

It has seen two World Series, endless concerts, yearly amusement rides and regular football games ranging from the Argos and the Buffalo Bills to high school championships. But now a fixture of Rogers Centre that has been there since the old SkyDome opened 20 years ago is about to disappear.

The Hard Rock Cafe, which is as closely identified with the stadium as its famous retractable roof or the field-facing hotel rooms, is leaving the complex.

The company that owns the franchise, Hard Rock International, issued a brief statement on Tuesday confirming it would not be renewing its lease when it expires at the end of the year.

The change is being attributed to the economic downturn and a rapid loss of business at the famed restaurant, which simply wasn’t attracting the same size crowds as it once did. Attendance at Jays games is also down from the team’s glory days and that’s made it even harder to sustain the local outlet.

The Hard Rock chain, which was purchased by the Seminole Tribe of Florida for $965 million in March 2007, refused to explain its decision, except to say that it was proud of its past association with the stadium.

The company is still a force to be reckoned with. It runs more than 100 restaurants, operates seven hotels and four casinos around the world and has become iconic with its unique collection of rock memorabilia displayed for patrons.

There’s no word yet on what will take its place inside the complex.

Photo credit: Carlo Allegri/AFP/Getty Images