Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Toronto Blue Jays has revealed the key elements of the first phase of the privately funded C$300m (£181.8m/€206.9m/$224.6m) revamp of Rogers Centre.
Construction work began on the project in November, with the first phase focusing on improvements related to fan experience. The 2022-23 offseason projects, intended to be completed for Opening Day 2023, will see significant changes made to the ballpark’s 500 level and lower outfield decks.
Alterations to the outfield seating scheme are allowing the Blue Jays to create four new areas or “neighbourhoods”. Located on the 100 level, in centre field, behind the batter’s eye, will be a bar area entitled The Stop.
In an ode to stadium history, The Stop sits in a space originally planned as a transit stop when the ballpark was first developed, showcasing the many different neighbourhoods which Toronto’s transit system runs through.
The Catch Bar will be located next to The Stop in right field. Situated above the visitors’ bullpen, it promises to offer views of the ballpark like never before, with the Blue Jays stating it will be “the place to be seen and catch a home run”.
Above these offerings, in the 500 level, the Corona Rooftop Patio promises to be the hallmark part of the new offerings. Situated beneath the CN Tower, fans will become a part of Toronto’s skyline in the highest section of Rogers Centre’s iconic rooftop.
Finally, over left field will be Park Social, a family-oriented two-tier area where the best of Toronto’s parks are brought into the ballpark. Anuk Karunaratne, executive vice-president of business operations for the Blue Jays, said phase one is focusing on two main issues at Rogers Centre.
“One is bringing the city into the ballpark,” said Karunaratne, according to the Canadian Press news agency. “The second is bringing fans closer to the action and also focusing on diversifying the sets of experiences that we offer in the ballpark. So really thinking about the outfield as a new way of enjoying a Blue Jays game that’s not sitting in your seat.”
Marnie Starkman, executive vice-president of business operations, added: “As much as we loved our old building, there really was a sea of blue seats. Our team did the best job they could but really, this outfield district is going to provide fans with such a better opportunity to travel around the ballpark and experience a different experience.”
First revealed in July, the Rogers Centre revamp aims to transform the stadium into a baseball-focused venue. The Blue Jays have once again teamed up with Populous for the project, after the architectural design firm worked to deliver the team’s Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Florida which opened in 2021.
The 49,000-seat Rogers Centre has been the home of the Blue Jays since opening in 1989 and is also used to host music concerts and other events. The renovations will see a reduction in its overall seating capacity to approximately 41,500, which does not include standing areas and private boxes.
The second phase, scheduled for the 2023-2024 offseason, will focus on the 100 level infield, field level premium clubs and social spaces, and clubhouses and player facilities.