Toronto Blue Jays: Now is the time to update the Rogers Centre

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 28: Fans gather outside the Rogers Centre on Opening Day before the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 28, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 28: Fans gather outside the Rogers Centre on Opening Day before the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 28, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Rogers Centre has been the home of the Toronto Blue Jays since 1989. First known as the Skydome, the Rogers Centre is now in need of some upgrades to become more modernized and no time may be better than the present.

The Rogers Centre sits in the heart of downtown Toronto, situated directly underneath one of Canada’s most famous landmarks in the CN Tower. Since 1989, the multi-purpose center has been home to both a variety of different organizations such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Argonauts (CFL). While sports have always been a factor at the Rogers Centre, the stadium has also hosted many different concerts and events over the years such as Shawn Mendes, UFC 129 and Taylor Swift.

In 2018, Forbes ranked all the stadiums across the MLB and found that the Rogers Centre came in at 22nd overall, making it the 9th worst stadium in the league.

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There are a few things that make the Rogers Centre rank where it is, one of them being the fact that the stadium uses artificial turf instead of natural grass. One of only two stadiums to use artificial turf (Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay Rays, also uses turf), the surface has seen some minor upgrades, like in 2016 when the infield became filled completely with dirt instead of turf.

Players have complained about playing on the turf vs. grass over the years, and while technology has advanced over the past decade to make the surface less hard on the body and become as natural as possible, it is tough to substitute the real thing.

There were discussions of the Toronto Blue Jays implementing a system that would allow for grass to grow in the Rogers Centre over the past decade, but those talks have been basically put to rest since Mark Shapiro was brought in as President of the organization.

To be completely honest, I am really not surprised that the discussion has faded away.

For one, it would cost a significant amount of money to retrofit the stadium to allow for grass to grow. Whether it be modifications that would allow for proper draining of the water to get the grass to grow or the overall maintenance over the year, these are just a few modifications associated with implementing natural grass, all of which cost a ton of money (think tens to hundreds of millions).

The Rogers Centre really wasn’t built to have natural grass.

Another reason the stadium ranks so slow on the Forbes listing is because of it’s bulky, concrete structure.

Toronto does have to deal with a significant amount of snow and colder temperatures over the year, something that teams like the Tampa Bay Rays or Los Angeles Angels don’t have the ‘luxury’ of dealing with. The adjustable roof allows for the team to have the structure closed during the winter months for various events but open during the hot summer days when baseball is being played but comes at a cost.

With this type of structure, there is a lot of concrete and the overall building has less of stadium feeling but instead creates a more boxed/inclosed sense that just doesn’t feel as open like newer stadiums across the league.

Compact these reasons with things like outdated concessions and just the overall need to update the stadium to become more modern, the Rogers Centre is in need of some renovations.

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With baseball being on the backburner due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the best time to capitalize on some much-needed upgrades.

I’m not saying the stadium needs to be completely gutted and redone in a few months time, which would be impossible to do in such a short time, but taking the opportunity to upgrade some specific areas while the MLB figures out how the season gets played out could allow the stadium to become more modern while the Rogers Centre sits idle anyways.

This not only creates some growth for the local Toronto economy in a time of need (with layoffs and job loss across the area) but also creates a ‘grand re-opening’ sense for fans who have been staying away from the Rogers Centre over the past three years. With the team in the midst of a rebuild, a stadium makeover combined with a team heading towards becoming a strong competitor makes for a pretty compelling story.

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What would you like to see be added to the Rogers Centre if you had the power?