Rogers Centre Facing Potential Demolition

Rogers Centre

Since 1989, MLB fans north of the border have been able to witness baseball at it’s finest inside the confines of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Now, the retractable roof that has become part of the Toronto skyline is set for demolition.

A New Look Plan 

The owner of the Toronto Blue Jays wants to demolish the Rogers Centre, as first noted by Adam Stanley on Twitter. They want to construct a new stadium as part of a downtown Toronto development. Rogers Communications Inc. and the real estate side in Brookfield Asset Management Inc. are working to get this done. They are working with city, provincial, and federal government officials on a plan. A plan to basically cut the Rogers Centre in half.

There is also consideration in building a new stadium on a lakefront site if the current plans fall through. While many may be shocked by the announcement, apparently this has been a decision in the making.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium,” said Rogers chief communications officer Seven Palvetzian.

Big Money Potential 

The plan right now is for a potential new stadium to be constructed within the next five to eight years. The multi-million dollar renovation would be privately funded by Brookfield and Rogers. There are, however, numerous government approvals to overcome.

While Rogers owns the stadium, the federal government owns the land. The stadium is also next to a former railway roundhouse that is now a national historic site, something that could complicate redevelopment plans. Rogers and Brookfield executives have been discussing their plans with the city of Toronto for more than two years, according to lobbying records. According to The Globe and Mail sources, the two companies and the city intended on going public with the information in the new year. The goal would be to construct a baseball-specific facility on the southern end of the facility. The northern portion of the 12.7-acre facility would then be destined to turn into residential towers, office buildings, and various stores.

A focus is to turn the area into a vibrant neighborhood. Rogers, who acquired the stadium in 2004 for $25 million, envisions turning parts of the facility into condos would allow for much more. It would allow the company to cash in on a potentially lucrative investment.

Redeveloping the Rogers Centre would allow the company more money in the future. The company has the potential to make more money from its real estate holding. Such a holding that the company is spending $2.8 billion on annually to upgrade it’s internet and cable networks in the face of 5G. The stadium is close to a convention centre, hotels, an aquarium, and several condo towers.

The Force Behind the Move

Rogers initially bought the Blue Jays team 20 years ago for $137 million. The Rogers Centre and the Blue Jays now are noted to be worth $1.6 billion according to analysts at National Bank Financial. The company has also taken stake in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors parent Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. That is worth $1.9-billion.

Brookfield, a Toronto-based company, is one of the world’s largest real estate owners. They have $108-billion invested in office buildings and shopping malls. The company has quite the foundation of repurposing properties. In midtown New York, Brookfield created a seven-acre site by covering railway lines with a concrete platform. Then they built four office towers and two acres of public space which is now called Manhattan West. That investment, which initially cost $5-billion, is now worth north of $8.6 billion.

The Potential End of An Era

The Rogers Centre is one of the last of it’s kind, one of just four stadiums currently using artificial turf. The others include Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, and Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. The plan with a new stadium would be to move to natural grass, something the Blue Jays have never had in a home ball park. Prior to the Rogers Centre, the only other home for Toronto in Exhibition Stadium (1977-1989) also had synthetic turf.

Initially known as the SkyDome when opened in 1989, the Rogers Centre was the first MLB stadium to have a retractable roof. The Blue Jays haven’t played in Rogers Centre since the 2019 campaign due to COVID-19 and government regulations. For the 2020 campaign, the Blue Jays called Buffalo, NY home in the stadium normally housed by their Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons.

Rogers has not yet come out and publicly confirmed reports of a new stadium. According to the Globe and Mail, that confirmation might come at the beginning of the new year.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images