Rogers Center is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays and was opened on June 3rd, 1989. Rogers Center is one of the most dynamic stadiums in the world as it hosts over 200 different events each year. Originally named SkyDome, the venue was renamed to Rogers Center on February 2nd, 2005. Rogers Center was the first stadium in the world to have a fully retractable roof.
Since Rogers Center opened in 1989, it has not changed much with the exception of a few cosmetic changes over the last few years. This includes widened concourses, upgraded suites, and new broadcasting technology.
Compared to other Major League Ballparks, Rogers Center is old, boring and is in need of a significant upgrade. It would be almost impossible to imagine that the Blue Jays would build a brand-new stadium, so what would they do to bring the Rogers Center into the 21st century of MLB ballparks?
In mid-2019, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro had a conversation with BBN Bloomberg and discussed the future of Rogers Center and left a few hints about what might be in store for the ballpark.
“We have some things in store which may even have a bigger impact on fan experience which I’m not going to divulge right now,” says Shapiro. “We’re still planning, but it will affect every minute of every game — put it that way — if we’re able to finish it.”
This statement is essentially a non-committal statement about upcoming renovations. However, according to Shapiro, the plans they have in store are extremely intriguing and provide hope for future changes.
What renovation could Shapiro be hinting at that would “affect every minute of the game”?
Rogers Center is one of two Major League Ballparks to use artificial turf. The other team that uses artificial turf is the Tampa Bay Rays. Arguably, the artificial turf gives the Blue Jays a disadvantage over other teams while playing at home.
All Blue Jays minor league parks have a real grass field. The minor leaguers are accustomed to how the ball bounces there and are familiar with the field. Then, they get to the Rogers Center, where the field is not grass, but turf and the ball takes different hops, they are unfamiliar with it. This causes them to perform poorly when they first arrive at the Majors. If Blue Jays minor leaguers came up from the minors with 3-5 years of experience playing on grass and played on that same surface in the MLB, their transition would be much smoother.
In addition, if the Blue Jays were to have a grass field at all minor league Blue Jays affiliates parks, players the Blue Jays acquired during the offseason would be an advantage because they are already used to playing on a grass field unless they came from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Also, artificial turf is much harsher on a player’s body, so players coming up to the Majors would not know what they can and cannot do successfully on the artificial turf because they not are used to playing on artificial turf.
Mark Shapiro is well aware that the artificial turf is outdated knows that updating it would benefit the Blue Jays significantly and could change the entirety of the game. Logically, this would be one of the first things they would do during a major renovation, so this could be what Shapiro’s talking about.
The Blue Jays have mentioned that they have big plans to renovate the Rogers Center in the future, but haven’t provided any details or made any formal commitments. For now, we can only guess what the Blue Jays have in mind and hope they will make changes soon.