The Toronto Blue Jays were counting on a return to the supposedly comfortable confines of Rogers Centre on Monday night as a welcome respite from the nasty weather that dogged them on their just-completed road trip.
Instead, the rain and sleet storm that has ravaged Toronto and Southern Ontario throughout the weekend resulted in several leaks in the roof of the domed facility.
As a result, the Blue Jays were forced to cancel their first game of a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals because of safety concerns.
The game will now be played on Tuesday afternoon, beginning at 3:07 p.m., as part of a traditional doubleheader.
For the Blue Jays, it meant another day on the sidelines, as their final two games over the weekend in Cleveland against the Indians also had to be postponed because of wretched weather conditions.
The Royals learned first-hand about the dangerous nature of the weather as they were heading from Toronto Pearson International Airport on two buses to their hotel downtown on Sunday night. A large chunk of ice flew off the lead bus and crashed into the windshield of the second, shattering it. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt.
Upon arrival at Rogers Centre mid-afternoon on Monday, a large tear in the roof over deep right field was easily discernible. On the field, three large tarps were spread out to keep any water from the artificial playing surface.
The roof had also sprung other, smaller leaks. There were tarps on the infield near shortstop and others down the left-field line. In the outfield, white buckets and large garbage containers were also strategically placed to catch drips from smaller tears.
But it was the gaping hole in right field, believed to have been caused by ice falling from the adjacent CN Tower, that was the biggest concern.
Andrew Miller, the Blue Jays executive vice-president of business affairs, was actually on the field on Monday morning with a couple of other building-maintenance employees when the damage occurred.
“We saw it happen – it was pretty frightening at the time,” said Miller, who witnessed large chunks of ice crash to the field below. “We knew [that] should there have been a game going on at the time, that that would have been a risk to players and the fans.”
By late afternoon, that hole had been patched up by stadium employees who braved the elements on the roof to make repairs.
Still, the decision was made to cancel the game, although that was not made public until just after 5:30 p.m. – about 90 minutes before game time.
“We were doing everything we possibly could to try and get the game in,” Miller said.
The last time a baseball game had to be called off at Rogers Centre was April 12, 2001, coincidentally also against the Royals, after two of the panels that make up the retractable roof collided, spewing debris all over the turf.
Fans who purchased tickets to Monday’s game directly from the Blue Jays will be allowed to exchange their tickets and pick one from a series of nine games – all on Mondays or Tuesdays. Fans with tickets to Tuesday’s originally scheduled game will be able to attend both games of the doubleheader.