The Toronto Blue Jays are in the process of finalizing plans to renovate Rogers Centre, their soon-to-be 33-year-old ballpark, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The renovations are expected to run more than $200 million and will redesign the stadium’s lower bowl, and modernize the ballpark throughout. No plans have been made official as of yet.
Last year Andrew Willis of the Globe and Mail reported the Blue Jays were looking into demolishing Rogers Centre and building a new stadium in the same location with sports-centered real estate development in the surrounding area. The Braves are the gold standard here. They built up the area around Truist Park to essentially create a real estate empire.
Demolishing and replacing Rogers Centre would require years of work not only for the actual construction, but also to sort through all the associated legal issues (the government owns part of the land, for example). So, that plan has been put on the shelf, and the Blue Jays will instead renovate their current ballpark. Here are more details from Davidi:
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.
Team president Mark Shapiro has long cited some sort of stadium upgrade as the primary lever available for the club to increase revenues, which in turn would help fuel the competitive window currently opened.
Rogers Centre opened in 1989 and is in a premium location right in downtown Toronto. It is walking distance from landmarks, shops, restaurants, residential areas, business districts, public transit, you name it. Leaving that location would be crazy, which is why the club looked into demolishing Rogers Centre and building a new ballpark in the same spot.
The Blue Jays have renovated Rogers Centre in bits and pieces over the years, including upgrading the scoreboard and sound system as well as the batting cages not too long ago. One thing that does not seem to be under consideration at this time: replacing the artificial turf with natural grass. It would be a massive undertaking given the need for irrigation, etc.
This past season the Blue Jays went 91-71 and missed the postseason by one game. They are clearly a team on the rise thanks to high-end young talent like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, quality veterans like George Springer, and a rotation that features four above-average starters (José Berríos, Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah, Hyun-Jin Ryu).
Wrigley Field in Chicago and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles underwent extensive renovations in recent years that were completed in stages in multiple offseasons.