The Toronto Blue Jays unveiled a $300 million multi-year plan to transform the Rogers Centre from a stadium into a ballpark. This privately funded transformation will enhance the in-game experience for the players and the fans alike. The stadium hasn't seen any fundamental renovations since it first opened 33 years ago.
Fans can expect to see a lot of changes to the stadium come next April. This will include a new outfield fence line that aims to provide new angles to the game.
"It 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. The details will not be revealed just yet but the coming alterations will keep pitcher-hitter fairness in mind. I think they will enjoy some of the hometown flavour, as our fans will be right on top of the visiting bullpen and the home bullpen."
Toronto Blue Jays President & CEO | Mark Shapiro
CBC News states that major changes to the bullpen are also expected during the first phase of renovations this off-season. Shapiro stated that the bullpens will be raised to fan level with new bleacher seats added. The 100-level seats will be brought forward to the new outfield walls to increase fan and player interaction.
Changes are also coming to the right-field corner, currently considered some of the most undesirable seats. Shapiro stated that there are plans to remove them and put in decks around the foul pole that will feature bars and group spaces. Construction for that section will be announced at a later date.
Since the 500 level is the least popular place to watch a game, Shapiro said that renovations this off-season will see those seats completely removed and replaced with non-ticketed spaces, splitting between a family-friendly side and a bar-focused side similar to a rooftop patio.
Shapiro stated that he wants to create in the right field side the best rooftop experience in Toronto when the roof's open in the middle of the summer, with the game going on in the background. Those seats are almost a never sell.
According to a news release, plans for the players will include:
- New family room for the players
- 5,000 square foot weight room
- Staff locker room
Additional plans for the 2023-24 season will see major changes to the 100 level that will include premium clubs and social spaces. Construction to the clubhouse and player facilities is also planned at that time.
The renovations will reduce capacity, but Shapiro doesn't see that dipping below 40,000. The current capacity is about 46,000. Meanwhile, no changes are being made to the roof or the field. Due to potential supply chain issues, the renovations could take up to three off-seasons to complete.
CBC Toronto had recently asked fans what improvements they would want to see. These included the following:
- 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
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 added that 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.
Posted by Judy Lamelza