Blue Jays won’t demolish Rogers Centre, opt for major $200-$250M renovation
Posted December 22, 2021 1:50 pm.
Last Updated December 22, 2021 8:16 pm.
The Toronto Blue Jays are finalizing plans for a renovation of Rogers Centre likely to include a redesign of the stadium’s lower bowl, according to an industry source, a project aimed at increasing revenues while modernizing the experience at the stadium.
VenuesNow, which cites multiple sources, says the new project — designed by Populous — is estimated to cost Rogers Communications and the Blue Jays somewhere between $200 and $250 million.
Populous designed the club’s recent upgrades to TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., along with the new Player Development Complex there.
Details should be wrapped up next month, with a formal unveiling to follow. Depending on the ultimate scope of the construction, it’s possible the work takes place in stages over a couple of off-seasons to avoid disrupting a season.
Officials with Rogers Communications and the Blue Jays could not be reached for comment.
In October, the organization announced that a new video board and concourse refinements would take place through the winter and be ready for the 2022 season.
Team president Mark Shapiro, who since joining the club in 2015 has floated the idea of a full-blown teardown, expanded on where things stand in mid-October, saying it would need to “be addressed at some point.”
“That’s not immediate, but it’s one when you think about the long-term horizon of the Blue Jays,” Shapiro told reporters at the time.
The shift comes after the club’s ownership at Rogers Communications Inc. had examined the type of joint stadium and property development increasingly common for sports franchises.
Planning to that end was put on hold by the pandemic, and a lobbyist registration with the City of Toronto tied to the project that included senior officials from both the Blue Jays and Rogers Communications, chair Edward Rogers among them, closed. The city has a leasehold interest in the site, while the dome itself is on Canada Lands Company property that is zoned exclusively for a stadium.
This update follows a bombshell report in November 2020 that highlighted Rogers’ plans to demolish the baseball stadium and construct a new ballpark. That included a submission to build a new baseball facility on the south end of where Rogers Centre currently stands and assembling residential towers and other businesses in the north section.
At the time, Rogers said the global pandemic had temporarily paused plans to move forward with a new stadium.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium, but through this year, our primary focus has been keeping our customers connected and employees safe, so there is no update on the Rogers Centre to share at this time,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The Rogers Centre in recent years has undergone incremental upgrades, the installation of a dirt infield, a new weight room and batting cages, an improved sound system and the current scoreboard changeover chief among them.
During a 2019 interview with Sportsnet.ca, Shapiro revealed that he’d presented a few retrofit plans of varying degrees to his superiors while adding, “there’s no scenario where you’re not talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Opened in 1989, Toronto’s Rogers Centre ranks as the seventh-oldest baseball stadium in operation and cost $570 million to build.
The Blue Jays’ former ballpark, Exhibition Stadium, was demolished 23 years ago this week.
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