The Rogers Centre, formerly known as Skydome, will host its first mixed martial arts event on Saturday, when UFC 129 “St. Pierre vs. Shields” lands in Toronto. Organizers expect a crowd of some 55,000, which would shatter the North American attendance mark for MMA.
When it opened in 1989, the Rogers Centre was a marvel of modern architecture -- the first major sports arena in North America with a functional and fully retractable roof. Held together by 250,000 bolts, the roof weighs 11,000 tons and can open or close in 20 minutes. Built by Rod Robbie at a staggering cost of $570 million, the facility fell into financial trouble in less than a decade. In 1998, Sportsco International LP bought Skydom out of bankruptcy for $85 million. Six years later, Rogers Communications, parent company of the Toronto Blue Jays, acquired the arena for $25 million, roughly four percent of the original cost of construction.
The Rogers Centre features LED video displays capable of displaying 4.3 trillion colors. The largest of these stretches 110 feet wide by 33 feet tall. To date, more than 2,000 events have been staged at the Rogers Centre, with more than 60 million visitors. It remains home to the MLB's Toronto Blue Jays and the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.
The Rogers Centre has twice hosted Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania VI on april 1, 1990 and Wrestlemania XVIII on march 17, 2002. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior headlined the first, Chris Jericho vs. Triple H the second. The 2002 show attracted the venue’s largest-ever paid crowd at 67,678. The Rogers Centre also played host to the 1991 MLB All-Star Game in which Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. was named MVP.