For the first time in 33 years, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays will undergo a massive $300 million renovation that will see the city’s stadium transformed into a world-class ballpark.
Baseball club brass announced the privately funded overhaul Thursday, which they say is focused on modernizing the fan experience and building facilities for elite players.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Jays chairman and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a presentation announcing the changes.
“When fans walk into the building next year, sit in these seats and the seats below, with the Canadian flag unfurled on the field behind us, it will be a dramatically different sight, a dramatically different view and a different ballpark. Shapiro said.
The first phase of renovations will begin in the 2022-2023 offseason, starting with the 100 and 200 level outfield.
Those seating areas will see the installation of what the Jays call new “social spaces” with patios, bars, bistros and observation decks.
The bullpens, where pitchers warm up, will be elevated and surrounded by new seating so fans can get even closer to their favorite players.
Seating on level 100 will also be moved closer to the new outfield walls, bringing fans within arm’s reach of the field.
On level 500, there will be two new social decks, similar to the existing WestJet flight deck, where fans can grab a drink and socialize with other fans regardless of where the seats are.
Additionally, every single seat on level 500 will be replaced, something that hasn’t happened since the building opened.
Updates are not limited to the fan experience.
At the field level, there are plans to build a family room for player families, a 5,000-square-foot weight room, as well as locker rooms for staff.
All of those projects will be completed in the offseason and won’t affect the game of baseball, the club said.
The team explained that the exterior of the building, the grass field modification and the roof are not within the current scope of the renovation plans.
The second set of renovations will begin in the 2023-2024 offseason and will include upgrades to the 100-level infield, clubs and premium field-level social spaces, and clubhouses and player facilities.
Rogers Center opened in 1989 as the Sky Dome at a cost of approximately $570 million, or about $1 billion in today’s dollars, and was the first stadium built with a fully retractable motorized roof.
Two years ago, a Globe and Mail report suggested that the Jays and developer Brookfield Asset Management Inc. were working on plans for a new downtown stadium. The Blue Jays later confirmed that they were “exploring their options” regarding the future of Rogers Center, but suspended work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously reported by TSN, the club believe the renovations, which will feature architecture firm Populous at the helm, will extend the life of the stadium by a further 10-15 years.
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Rogers Center brought a massive 8,000-square-foot video wall ahead of the 2022 season that allows for an enhanced viewing experience for both fans in the stadium and those watching from home.