On any given night, the Rogers Centre might have an audience of more than 40,000 fans within the confines of its concrete foundation. But there will always remain 15 fans outside the stadium that remain a fixture on the exterior of the Rogers Centre.
For this week’s Flashback Friday, we take a look back at one of the most prominent sculptures around the Rogers Centre called “The Audience”.
For those who frequent Blue Jays games quite often, it’s almost one of those things that becomes second nature. Unless you were going to a Blue Jays game for the first time, you might not even notice it.
However, if you stop and look up while you’re on Blue Jays Way, you’ll notice several inhabitants on the northeast and northwest corners of the stadium. They are the “keepers” of the Rogers Centre so to speak; forever perched on the corners of the building like gargoyles.
In total there are 15 different statues, and they’re all meant to symbolize the different subsects of fans; you have the hecklers, the father and son, the muscle man, the hungry fan, and many others.
Although the builders of the Skydome already planned on having some sort of art around the ballpark anyway, it was actually mandated that 1% of the total construction costs be designated to public art projects. The Skydome was the first major development in Toronto to do such a thing.
Renowned Canadian artist Michael Snow was the lead artist on the project, and you’ll probably notice his other handiwork around Toronto; most notably the Canadian geese display inside the Eaton Centre.
He first developed The Audience as a small scale project with plaster, and later graduated to a 1/3 scale model constructed of A-frames, and then finally built the full scale sculptures out of a steel skeleton.
The frames themselves were sprayed with heavy foam, and were then carved out to resemble to characters … not unlike an ice carving. Once the shapes took place, the characters were sprayed with protective fiberglass and lastly a bronze-like finish.
When asked about which particular fans the sculpture represented, Snow explained his choices of characters:
“The sculpture reflects sports, with the fans doing what they do, both positive and negative, in reaction to what they’re seeing. But they’re all individuals, so there’s no code that works for them all.
The general style and mood is deliberately more Roman than Greek. There are references to historical styles and idioms within the overall style: Hindu, Romanesque, Gothic.”
The final cost of The Audience sculpture is not known, but the total budget for all the art projects in and around the Skydome had a price tag of approximately $2.5 million dollars. The project took a total of 15 months to complete from conception to completion.
So the next time you’re heading to the Blue Jays game and going through Gate 2 or Gate 13, be sure to take a glance upwards. Who knows, you might even see yourself in one of the characters up there.