Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro says that Rogers Centre upgrades are still being discussed, but that some issues must be addressed before a project moves forward.
Rogers Centre originally opened as the SkyDome in 1989. While the retractable-roof ballpark remains a functional facility, it is also showing its age in many areas and lacks some of the amenities that are found at more modern Major League Baseball venues.
That has led to a belief that the Blue Jays will eventually undertake a renovation to the Rogers Centre that addresses multiple areas of the facility, including fan amenities. However, the club has yet to formally announce that it is moving forward with a renovation. The team’s interest level in pursuing a renovation remains strong, but Shapiro recently indicated that funding is a major sticking point that must be resolved. More from Sportsnet:
What I can tell you is there’s an understanding from Rogers ownership, top to bottom, that there’s an appreciation of the need as well as an understanding that’s probably one of the biggest levers if not the biggest lever on the Blue Jays business model.
We have both an infrastructure need and a business-model need to renovate the stadium. We have presented proposals for that. They have been embraced by Rogers executives and by (CEO) Joe Natale and (CFO) Tony Staffieri, and everyone down. It’s just a matter of determining funding sources and timing. That’s not within our control, so we continue to operate the business and understand it’s a huge amount of money and we are the only major-league baseball team that is asked to completely privately finance a renovation of this scale.
I think our fans need to understand that. Every other of our 29 competitors receives some public funding for renovations of this scale, or bigger or smaller, even new stadiums. This burden falls completely on our ownership, so in light of that, it’s a big undertaking and one that needs to be thought about carefully in light of all the priorities out there.
The Rogers Centre was originally designed as a multi-purpose venue so that it could also host the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League). The Argonauts no longer use Rogers Centre, however, as they moved into an expanded BMO Field in 2016. The Blue Jays will still have to pin down renovation plans, but it would seem that any future Rogers Centre upgrades could lead to a more intimate baseball experience while adding social spaces and other modern amenities.