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Rogers Centre is getting a $300M reno. Here's what the Blue Jays ballpark will look like

Written by on July 28, 2022

Toronto Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro announced plans for $300 million worth of renovations to Rogers Centre that will take place over the next two to three off-seasons.

Come opening day next April, Shapiro said during a news conference Thursday, fans can expect to see considerable changes to the 33-year-old stadium, which include a new outfield fenceline that aims to provide new angles on the game. 

“[I]t will not be a symmetrical outfield fence — there will be some uniqueness to both the height of the outfield fence throughout the outfield and the dimensions,” he said, adding that the details will not be revealed just yet, but the coming alterations will keep pitcher-hitter fairness in mind.

The renovations will create raised bullpens and new bleacher seats. The 100-level seats will be brought forward to the new outfield walls to increase fan and player interaction. (Blue Jays)

Major changes to the bullpen, expected during the first phase of renovations this off-season, could give the Jays a little advantage next year. Shapiro said the bullpens will be raised to fan level, which, he said in jest, could “potentially discourage” opposing relief pitchers.

Club has already made tweaks this season

Rogers added a few tweaks during the most recent offseason, such as LED lights and a new scoreboard. But the multipurpose venue hasn’t seen any fundamental renovations since it first opened 33 years ago as the world’s first stadium with a retractable roof.

CBC Toronto recently posted on the Blue Jays subreddit to ask fans what they wanted to see. Some of their ideas included:

  • Replacing artificial turf with natural grass.
  • Bringing in more local and better food and beverage options.
  • Improving seat direction, spacing and comfort.
  • Celebrating local baseball history through art, murals and memorials.
  • Renovating the dome to bring in more natural light.

Some commenters were hoping to see the centre revert back to the original SkyDome name and the return of the “Ice Cold Beer Guy” at games.

Toronto resident Matt Marek says making way for statues of iconic Jays players like Joe Carter or depicting moments like José Bautista’s bat flip in 2015 would hit a home run with fans.

“I think we could get rid of the [Ted] Rogers statue and bring in some old players,” said Marek, 40, who’s been a fan since he was a kid.

“I think fans would love that. Fans have been vocal about that, and I think we deserve it also.”

Ben Eastman, second from the left, is pictured with his family and partner at a Blue Jays game in August 2016. He hopes the renovations help get fans excited to visit the stadium for things beyond just baseball. (Submitted by Ben Eastman)

Burlington resident Ben Eastman also wants to have more activities to do or things to see beyond the actual game, as the stadium is currently “lacking in a little bit of soul.”

“Especially with ticket prices, when you go nowadays, you really want to have other stuff to do rather than just watching the game and going home,” said Eastman.

What’s also needed, he adds, is a re-think of the stadium’s layout. Cooling stations to combat heat waves and improved accessibility in seating and washrooms would help modernize the building, he says.

“I just really hope it goes toward things that have a functional improvement on everyday experiences,” said Eastman.

A hopeful payoff

Toronto architect Mark Berest — a principal at B+H Architects who has worked on several sports venues, including Regina’s Mosaic Stadium — says keeping Rogers Centre not only saves a part of Toronto’s brand, but also energy and emissions from having to demolish the building.

He adds the industry has heard rumours of what the renovations would look like. He says Rogers is likely going to be improving the quality of seating, the concourse and making the overall stadium more “intimate” and in line with old-time ballparks that fans love.

“There are lots of ways they could make it, and I think they intend to do this [by focusing] on improving fan experience, which is important.”

Rogers Centre, originally dubbed Skydome, opened in 1989. It was the world’s first stadium with a retractable roof. But decades later, fans think it’s badly in need of upgrades. Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro will update the public Thursday on plans to renovate the iconic landmark. (Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press)

Pickering resident Rachel Ho wonders exactly what could be changed at the stadium to make for a better fan experience. 

“It’s the same as when I was a kid because nothing has really changed,” she said. Ho says the topic was top of mind for her during Tuesday’s Jays game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

She hopes the renovations put the stadium back on the map and take after some American baseball stadiums that Jays fans wish they had instead.

“It’s an exciting time that hopefully pays off in the next 10, 15, 20 years.”