The Toronto Blue Jays are considering a new ballpark at the current Rogers Centre site or another downtown Toronto site, according to a local news report, with Rogers Communications and Brookfield Asset Management looking at tearing down the groundbreaking facility.
According to the Globe and Mail (paywall; sorry), the Rogers Centre site is large enough to accommodate both a smaller ballpark and plenty of new development, presenting a pretty compelling argument to the team and investors. The drawback to the huge retractable roof at the 1985 facility is that it require a lot of real estate to work, real estate that can’t be monetized. By tearing down Rogers Centre and reducing the ballpark footprint, there would be enough new real estate to interest the likes of a Brookfield Asset Management, which envisions a mixed-use development for the north side of a ballpark site with office space, residential towers, retail, hotel and other related businesses. Yes, we’re talking about a development like The Battery that’s all the rage among Major League Baseball teams these days, as MLB teams morph into real-estate developers. The initial approach to Rogers Centre renovations involved the real-estate angle as well–we detailed these efforts back in 2019, so we’re not talking about totally new here.
The Atlanta Braves really boosted the movement with the opening of Truist Park and the associated Battery mixed-use real-estate development, but before that teams like the San Francisco Giants had already been working on developments next to their home ballparks. The Colorado Rockieshave invested in real-estate development next to Coors Field, the St. Louis Cardinals developed Ballpark Village next to Busch Stadium, the Chicago Cubs invested heavily in the Wrigleyville redevelopment that included changes both to Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood, and the San Diego Padres–who helped launch the trend with the construction of Petco Park, transforming downtown San Diego–won city approval for redevelopment of a desirable parcel next to the ballpark. Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno negotiated a deal to purchase the 153-acre Angel Stadium site and redevelop it into a mixed-use site, and last month the Boston Red Sox announced its plans for new development at Fenway Park. It would be amazing if new ballparks in Tampa or Oakland didn’t include some sort of real-estate development as well; similarly, many experts say the real estate surrounding Citi Field is ripe for development–something the Wilpons never could accomplish.
There undoubtedly will be plenty of polite public outcry should Rogers Centre go away: lots of memories were generated at Skydome by the World Series wins, concerts and other high-profile events. Those will be countered by folks acknowledging that Rogers Centre can be an uncomfortable place to watch a game: many seat angles are wonky because it was originally designed to host the Blue Jays and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, with the grandstand splitting in half to accommodate the larger CFL field. As a piece of architectural history, Rogers Centre is cool and totally unique, which is why the Blue Jays first looked at renovations and not demolition. We are looking at a privately financed development here: Rogers Centre is owned by Rogers Communications (picked up for a bargain $25 million, in retrospect), and the team as well as Brookfield is expected to back the redevelopment. And there are plenty of logistical issues to be determined–like how the Blue Jays play at Rogers Centre while a new ballpark is being built on the same site.
Photo of Rogers Centre from our 2005 visit. Yes, the current scoreboard is larger.
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