Damage to Rogers Centre roof causes rare postponement at domed stadium

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays executive Andrew Miller was standing with some colleagues by the Rogers Centre infield Monday morning when he heard a series of unexpected bangs.

Several pieces of ice fell on the domed stadium from the nearby CN Tower, with one chunk creating a hole the size of a workdesk in the roof on the east side of the building.

“It’s hard to describe, it was really loud,” Miller said. “It sounded like fireworks or some sort of explosion going off.”

The evening game between the Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals was postponed about 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch at 7:07 p.m. ET. The teams will play a double-header Tuesday.

Miller, who was at field level to inspect damage from a weekend ice storm that hammered the southern Ontario region, said he was startled by a series of “different, loud collisions.”

“We saw it happen, it was pretty frightening at the time,” said Miller, the team’s executive vice-president of business operations. “We knew that (if) there was a game going on at the time, it would have been a risk to players and the fans.”

A hole was still visible in the roof on Monday afternoon. Work crews eventually repaired the tear although tarps and buckets remained on the turf in right field, along the left-field line and the edge of the infield to catch drips.

“If you come to a dome and get banged, something ain’t right,” said Royals manager Ned Yost.

Miller said pieces of ice crashed to the turf in right field along with some insulation from the roof.

“From talking to people who have been here a long time — since the building opened in 1989 — no one had ever seen anything like this,” he said. “It was something we took very seriously right away.”

Team officials consulted with engineering staff, CN Tower representatives and the Toronto Police before making the decision to reschedule the game.

If the double-header against the Royals is played, the second game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, which is set to begin at 3:07 p.m. ET. Toronto was coming off back-to-back postponements in Cleveland over the weekend due to rain.

Even though Monday’s game was rescheduled, the Blue Jays are calling it a cancellation as they’ll lose a home gate.

Fans with tickets to Tuesday’s game will be able to attend both games of the double-header, the team said. Tickets from Monday’s game can also be exchanged for one of nine future games (including entry on Tuesday).

It was the first time a game has been postponed at Rogers Centre since a Jays-Royals contest on April 12, 2001. That game was called off after two panels collided while the retractable roof was in motion.

The Blue Jays, who completed a US$10-million, two-year mechanical upgrade of the roof before last season, are looking at replacing the roof cover.

The stadium’s artificial turf surface, one of two such fields in the majors, does not have drainage.

Falling ice also made for a scary arrival for the Royals, who flew in from Kansas City late Sunday.

While the team was en route to its Toronto hotel, a flying chunk of ice broke the windshield of a team bus, showering the driver in glass. Reliever Blaine Boyer grabbed the wheel and helped bring the bus to a stop.

The weather also caused problems at the nearby Air Canada Centre. A leak on the court caused a slight delay at the start of Saturday’s NBA playoff game between the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.

On Monday evening, water leaked into the seating area shortly before an NHL playoff game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. That game started on time.

On Tuesday, Blue Jays starter Jaime Garcia was set to start Game 1 and fellow left-hander J.A. Happ was tabbed for the nightcap. The Royals will counter with southpaws Eric Skoglund and Danny Duffy.

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will get the start for Toronto on Wednesday.


Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. With files from The Associated Press.

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