A major $250 million renovation at Rogers Center in Toronto is one step closer to reality
Talk of a new stadium to replace Rogers Center fell flat in December 2021 when it was revealed the Toronto Blue Jays had instead opted for a quarter-billion-dollar renovation that would modernize the 33-storey stadium. year.
The aging concrete monolith – now the seventh oldest in Major League Baseball – will get a substantial upgrade, with Rogers Communications planning to invest up to $250 million. That’s ten times the list price the media giant paid for the stadium in 2004.
It was reported in December that PCI Construction Group and architects Populous – specializing in sports venues – had won a bid for the massive redesign of the dome, a project that is expected to squeeze another decade and a half out of the facility and leave more time to schedule a replacement.
Upgrades are expected to begin after the end of the 2022 season, with 30% of the project to be built during the upcoming off-season and the remaining 70% after the 2023 season.
If all goes according to plan, the Rogers Center renovation will be completed in time for the start of the 2024 season.
For a quarter of a billion dollars, you’d expect to see some bold changes to the stadium, but the details are still hazy.
What is known is that the actual dimensions of the pitch and its artificial surface are not expected to change, nor is the iconic exterior. What will change, however, is the stadium’s lower bowl, which will be removed entirely and replaced with more modern seating.
The plan to pump money into the Rogers Center took another twist this week when Rogers opened a lobbying file with the City to start a dialogue on the upcoming project, led by none other than the President and Toronto Blue Jays CEO Mark Shapiro.
The lobbying brief brings the upgrades closer to fruition, but it also presents a few questions.
Shapiro’s phone call with Etobicoke-Lakeshore councilor Mark Grimes in early June would make more sense if Grimes was a member of the planning committee or if the dome was in his neighborhood. That’s not the case either, so it’s unclear what his involvement is.
In his City Hall Watcher newsletter, Matt Elliott suggests Grimes’ love of the sport could be a factor, with the councilor moonlighting as commissioner of a lacrosse league, although it’s more likely that Rogers is just trying to determine who to even direct their lobbying efforts towards.
Elliott notes that Mayor John Tory is unable to participate “due to his long-standing conflicts of interest with matters relating to Rogers”, while local councilor Joe Cressy has resigned, successor Joe Mihevc occupying a temporary caretaker role.
Other lobbyists on the case include the Jays’ senior vice president of finance and senior vice president of strategy and operations, as well as a representative from Crestview Strategy, the latter to lobby city staff. on what is simply described as “improvements to the Blue Jays fan experience at the Rogers Centre.”
The planned revamp follows a major upgrade to the stadium experience ahead of the 2022 season that saw the installation of a massive new 8,000 square foot screen and scoreboard combination.