Toronto Blue Jays fans are eagerly anticipating an update on the future of the Rogers Centre after years of debate on whether to demolish or renovate the iconic stadium.
Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro will share details and initial renderings of an updated Rogers Centre at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Rogers added a few tweaks during the most recent offseason, such as LED lights and a new scoreboard. But the multipurpose venue hasn’t seen any fundamental renovations since it first opened 33 years ago as the world’s first stadium with a retractable roof.
CBC Toronto posted on the Blue Jays subreddit to ask fans what they wanted to see. Some of their ideas included:
Some commenters were hoping to see the centre revert back to the original SkyDome name and the return of the “Ice Cold Beer Guy” at games.
Toronto resident Matt Marek says making way for statues of iconic Jays players like Joe Carter or depicting moments like José Bautista’s bat flip in 2015 would hit a home run with fans.
“I think we could get rid of the [Ted] Rogers statue and bring in some old players,” said Marek, 40, who’s been a fan since he was a kid.
“I think fans would love that. Fans have been vocal about that, and I think we deserve it also.”
Burlington resident Ben Eastman also wants to have more activities to do or things to see beyond the actual game, as the stadium is currently “lacking in a little bit of soul.”
“Especially with ticket prices, when you go nowadays, you really want to have other stuff to do rather than just watching the game and going home,” said Eastman.
What’s also needed, he adds, is a re-think of the stadium’s layout. Cooling stations to combat heat waves and improved accessibility in seating and washrooms would help modernize the building, he says.
“I just really hope it goes toward things that have a functional improvement on everyday experiences,” said Eastman.
A hopeful payoff
Toronto architect Mark Berest — a principal at B+H Architects who has worked on several sports venues, including Regina’s Mosaic Stadium — says keeping Rogers Centre not only saves a part of Toronto’s brand, but also energy and emissions from having to demolish the building.
He adds the industry has heard rumours of what the renovations would look like. He says Rogers is likely going to be improving the quality of seating, the concourse and making the overall stadium more “intimate” and in line with old-time ballparks that fans love.
“There are lots of ways they could make it, and I think they intend to do this [by focusing] on improving fan experience, which is important.”
Pickering resident Rachel Ho wonders exactly what could be changed at the stadium to make for a better fan experience.
“It’s the same as when I was a kid because nothing has really changed,” she said. Ho says the topic was top of mind for her during Tuesday’s Jays game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
She hopes the renovations put the stadium back on the map and take after some American baseball stadiums that Jays fans wish they had instead.
“It’s an exciting time that hopefully pays off in the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
This content was originally published here.