Rogers Communications may put the Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre on the market in order to raise cash for other acquisitions and investments, according to Rogers CFO Tony Staffieri.
Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York, Staffieri said that the team and the ballpark were not on the market at this time, but selling them would raise the cash needed for expansion of the Rogers wireless network. Owning the team, he said, was not the only way to keep media rights for the Rogers cable system.
It would be an interesting process if the team were to hit the market: sports rights have never been worth more, and Toronto is certainly a major media market. But selling the team while retaining media rights doesn’t leave any upside for a potential buyer save an increase in attendance and sponsorship, and there are definitely some challenges with Rogers Centre. The almost-30-year-old has some things necessary to do business in Toronto, like a retractable roof, but it sounds like the Blue Jays ownership and management has concluded conversion to a grass field would be too much of a technical challenge, and the cost of a more generalized upgrade is high. By selling the team and the ballpark while retaining media rights, Rogers Communications would be selling the cow while retaining the milk, in a manner of speaking. Still, in this day and age, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of suitors when an MLB team goes on the market — i.e., multiple groups overbidding on the Miami Marlins — so anything is possible.
Rogers purchased 80 percent of the Blue Jays for C$160 million (while later acquiring the other 20 percent) in 2000 and purchased Rogers Centre for C$25 million in 2004.