TORONTO (AP) — Even moving indoors couldn’t get the Blue Jays back on the field.
Toronto postponed Monday’s series opener against Kansas City after chunks of ice crashed down from the nearby CN Tower following a weekend of freezing rain, including one that punctured a hole in the Rogers Centre roof.
Andrew Miller, the Blue Jays’ executive vice president of business operations, was standing in the infield with two colleagues around 10:00 a.m. Monday, examining existing damage, when a falling piece of ice tore a hole about three feet by five feet in the PVC roof over right field, sending ice and pieces of insulation crashing onto the turf.
“We saw it happen,” Miller said. “It was pretty frightening. It was really loud. It sounded like fireworks or some kind of explosion going off.”
It’s the first postponement at Rogers Centre since a game against the Royals was called off following a collision between two panels of the stadium’s moving roof on April 12, 2001. The teams will play a doubleheader on Tuesday.
“If you come to a dome and get banged, something ain’t right,” Royals manager Ned Yost said about an hour before the game was called.
Monday’s starters, Kansas City left-hander Eric Skoglund and Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia, will start Game 1 on Tuesday. Game 2 will also feature a pair of lefties, with Kansas City’s Danny Duffy going against Toronto’s J.A. Happ.
Weather also wiped out Toronto’s game at Cleveland on Sunday, one of six games around the majors to be postponed. It was the second straight weather-related postponement for the Indians and Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays completed a two-year, $10 million mechanical upgrade of the retractable roof before the 2017 season, and this year are looking at replacing the roof cover, which dates from the stadium opening in 1989. The stadium’s artificial turf surface, one of two such fields in the majors, does not have drainage.
On Monday afternoon, light could be seen coming through the hole above right field, while tarps and batting practice screens surrounded the area on the turf below. Workers went on the roof and patched the hole around 4 p.m., and the Blue Jays said they still hoped to play. About an hour later, the game was postponed.
“We didn’t want to put players at risk, we didn’t want to put fans or employees at risk,” Miller said. “We just thought more information and more time would help us.”
Most of the outfield was cordoned off, and tarpaulins and buckets on both the infield and outfield were being used to catch leaks and drips.
Batting practice was also called off, but players from both teams played catch on the areas of the field that were still accessible.
The postponement came hours after a post on the Blue Jays’ official Twitter feed boasted the Rogers Centre was immune to weather woes. The since-deleted tweet, which included a winking emoji, read: “Weather update: Due to our stadium having a roof, today’s game will be … Played as expected.”
The Minnesota Vikings, who dealt with multiple roof collapses at their former home, the Metrodome, later tweeted a message to the Blue Jays saying “Been there, done that @BlueJays. We’re here if you need any support.”
Police blocked access to entrance gates on the east side of the stadium, next to the tower, because “relatively large” pieces of ice were falling onto streets and sidewalks below. Authorities said no injuries had been reported, but several windows in nearby office buildings were smashed and at least one car was struck.
Falling ice also made for a scary arrival in Toronto for the Royals, who flew in from Kansas City late Sunday after their game against the Los Angeles Angels was among those postponed. 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.
Rogers Centre wasn’t the only Toronto stadium affected by the weather. Water was leaking into the seating area at nearby Air Canada Centre about an hour before Monday’s NHL playoff game between the Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. That game began on time. Saturday’s NBA playoff game at the same arena between the Raptors and Washington Wizards was delayed by a leak along the baseline.
The weekend ice storm resulted in power outages, canceled flights and road collisions across Ontario. More than 120,000 customers remain without power.