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Friday, July 29, 2022

Blue Jays announce renovation plans for Rogers Centre

For 33 years, Rogers Centre has been a multipurpose stadium that happens to host Major League Baseball games. That’s about to change.

With a $300 million renovation that will take place over the next two offseasons, the Blue Jays plan to transform the stadium into a true ballpark with modernized fan experiences and enhanced player facilities. The project, which is privately funded and the first large-scale renovation in the building’s history, will begin this winter.

“It’s going to be a dramatically different look on Opening Day of 2023,” Blue Jays president/CEO Mark Shapiro told reporters at Rogers Centre on Thursday. “The largest focus [is] modernizing fan experience. Taking a 1980s perspective of what an experience was, and turning that into a 2020s [notion] and beyond of what compelling fan experience should be in our modern sports entertainment landscape.”

Phase 1 of the project will begin in the 100 and 200 Levels of the outfield, where “social spaces” are being prioritized alongside traditional seating options. This means patios, drink rails, bars and viewing platforms that will allow fans to move through the stadium as the game goes on. The Blue Jays also plan to raise the bullpens and move 100-Level seating closer to the wall, bringing fans closer to the action.

In the 500 Level, two new “social decks” will be added to left and right field and all 500-Level seats will be replaced from the originals when the building opened. The goal is to create a more viewer-friendly experience from everywhere in the venue, addressing a long-time issue derived from the multi-purpose nature of the current layout.

The organization also hopes that facilitating a more viewer-friendly experience and adding social-gathering spaces for families and casual fans will help foster the game of baseball in Toronto.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 29, 2022 at 08:51 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, rogers centre

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   1. Dr. Johnny Fever Posted: July 29, 2022 at 10:06 AM (#6088864)
This looks really nice and everything, but the real barrier for the casual fan wanting to attend a Jays game is Toronto itself (which is out of Rogers control). Toronto's sprawl, congestion, constant road construction, etc. has made getting to Rogers Centre such a chore. From where I live, it used to be 1.5 hours to the downtown or 1 hour to the closest subway station. Now it's usually 2 hours to the same subway station, where there's a 50% chance you won't find parking because the lots are full with work commuters. The days of a casual fan in the outskirts saying "hey kids, lets go to a Jays game" are pretty much done. What I'm saying is, I guess, is that some fans don't need a "better experience" at the game, but a "better experience" getting to the game.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 29, 2022 at 11:23 AM (#6088871)
Don’t get too attached to the newly renovated Rogers Center:
But this announcement doesn’t change the organization’s long-term plan to overhaul the current stadium, either by building an entirely new ballpark at another Toronto location or by investing in even larger renovations for the current one.

“This is a medium-term solution,” Shapiro told reporters. “What does that mean? I'm not sure I can put an exact year on that, but 10-12 years, something in that time frame. We still will need, at some point, the undertaking of: What does a new ballpark or a massive renovation of this existing stadium mean?”
Just a placeholder, eh?
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 29, 2022 at 11:46 AM (#6088874)
Just a placeholder, eh?

Sure, until they can design a stadium to host virtual baseball.
   4. Brian C Posted: July 29, 2022 at 10:18 PM (#6088935)
I remember when the ASG was held in SkyDome in 1991, and it seemed like the most amazing, modern stadium ever built - they spent the whole broadcast talking about how great it was and I believed every word as an 13-year-old. And then it wasn't but a few years later that time had passed it by, when the baseball world moved on and very suddenly and irreversibly went all-in on the retro park craze.

Anyway, I visited myself in 2010 or 2011 and it was kind of a sad place - not a ton of fans, no atmosphere, and even with the roof open, it felt like a dark indoor cavern because the walls around the stadium are so high. It felt like being inside one of those old tin coffee cans with the lid off, and honestly wasn't much different than the Astrodome when I was there last in 2000, right before the new Houston park opened. Just a completely charmless place.

So I guess these upgrades can only help, but I doubt it will change the feeling that the park is essentially obsolete by modern standards. On the bright side, I was staying downtown and so avoided all the issues Dr. Fever describes above. And Toronto itself was a cool city so the trip overall was a lot of fun.
   5. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: July 30, 2022 at 08:54 AM (#6088969)
I get the feeling that "modernizing the fan experience" will best be translated as "we're raising ticket prices across the board".
   6. McCoy Posted: July 30, 2022 at 08:56 AM (#6088970)
They can do that without modernizing the fan experience
   7. Dr. Johnny Fever Posted: July 30, 2022 at 09:38 AM (#6088972)
On the bright side, I was staying downtown and so avoided all the issues Dr. Fever describes above. And Toronto itself was a cool city so the trip overall was a lot of fun.

I totally agree on that point. Actually being in downtown Toronto can be amazing. I can't fault Rogers Centre's location, as it is in the heart of an awesome entertainment district. We just need science to hurry and invent transporters like on Star Trek so people in suburbs can just "beam" in :)
   8. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 30, 2022 at 08:40 PM (#6089031)
The best thing about SkyDome is that it is extremely accessible for anyone in the greater Toronto area.

Subway, bus, Go Train, street car...lots of ways to get to the stadium as it is next door to the central transit hub for the city (Union Station).
If you must take your car, the major thoroughfare goes right by it. There is enough parking (some cheap, some not) within 15 minute walk of the dome.

Hell, you can fly in that afternoon and take a single train from Pearson Airport directly to Union Station.

The location is why all the talk of a new stadium is going to be a problem. There is no possible location in the downtown core that can hold a new baseball stadium, so that means they'd either have to build an island off the coast in Lake Ontario to hold it, or it will have to be on the outskirts of the city (terrible transit planning).

I now live 2 hours from Toronto, but I can get to the game rather easily. I drive an hour (or hour + 15 minutes if traffic is bad), jump on a Go Train, and it drops me off next to the ballpark an hour later. I've done that quite a few times in the past few years. If a new stadium goes north of the city, then all the transit options for me disappear.

People might not like the aesthetic, but the location is pretty much the best in the league.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 31, 2022 at 01:55 AM (#6089052)
The project, which is privately funded

Canada seems to be doing this wrong...
   10. McCoy Posted: July 31, 2022 at 06:30 AM (#6089054)
Camden Yards might beg to differ in terms of ease of location. Hell, so can Wrigley and Nats Park
   11. CStallion Posted: July 31, 2022 at 07:33 AM (#6089057)
#1 having grown up in the suburbs (50 mins drive to the stadium but 10 mins to the nearest GO station) but left years ago, I can't quite picture where you live but TTC seems like a terrible option.

#8 is closer to my experience and there isn't anywhere else to have the baseball stadium.
   12. Brian C Posted: July 31, 2022 at 05:38 PM (#6089101)
The bottom line is that metro sprawl has gotten so extensive that there's nowhere you could ever build a stadium in any metro area where it isn't a pain for someone to get to. Which isn't to say that there aren't better and worse spots, but someone's always going to have a gripe.
Camden Yards might beg to differ in terms of ease of location. Hell, so can Wrigley and Nats Park

Wrigley isn't even the easiest MLB stadium to access in Chicago.
   13. McCoy Posted: July 31, 2022 at 05:41 PM (#6089102)
Is there a third team in Chicago?

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