According to industry sources, Rogers and the Toronto Blue Jays have decided to forego building a new stadium, opting instead on a quarter-billion-dollar renovation of Rogers Centre. First reported in Venue Now, the Jays have completed their proposal process and have awarded bids to Populous to design the upgrades and PCI Construction to serve as the general contractor. There is currently no estimated timeline for the renovations to start or be completed, but it is estimated that the project cost will run between $200M-$250M.
The choice of extensive refurbishment may disappoint some fans focused on the idea of a new stadium more in line with modern stadium designs, but a new park faced significant hurdles. While the idea of building a new stadium and developing the surrounding area into organization aligned properties and amenities similar to other teams like Chicago’s ‘Wrigleyville’ was obviously tempting to Rogers, the fact that the land is leased to the team for single use only had many questioning whether they would have a legal right to redevelop the area into a mixed-use complex. The other major hurdle involved the loss of multiple seasons in Toronto while demolition and construction were ongoing. While Buffalo and Dunedin remain options, 2021 clearly showed the difficulties the team would face maintaining multiple years without a true home park.
It is entirely possible that the main factor involved in the decision is basic economics. Even if the project blows past its budget, it will remain a fraction of a new stadium and surrounding development cost, which initial estimates put as high as $1.5B. Considering the costs involved in the recent acquisition of Shaw Communications by Rogers, a ten-figure construction investment was possibly a bridge too far for the Executive Board.
The Jays announced in October that a new video board and concourse improvements would take place over the off-season and be ready for the 2022 season, which follows the extensive refurbishment of the 300 level boxes and former press box in 2019.
The selection of Populous as the principal designer of the renovations comes as no surprise. Over the last 35 years, Populous has been involved in designing or refurbishing 20 MLB and 76 MiLB parks and spring training facilities, making it the closest thing to a defacto firm for professional baseball. There are no details as to what potential renovations would involve, but the mandate is to make Rogers Centre more aligned and conducive to a baseball exclusive venue.
It is important to note that these details come from industry sources close to the team but have not yet been confirmed by any team officials or Rogers executives.