The Blue Jays are reportedly getting a new home.
Rogers Communications, the company that owns the team and building the Jays have played in since 1989, is planning to demolish the retractable roof stadium and add a new park on the site as part of a larger development plan in downtown Toronto, according to media build reports Friday.
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The new stadium would be primarily used for baseball and will be fitted with natural grass, sources told Globe and Mail (subscription required). The Rogers Center is one of the few remaining MLB stadiums that uses artificial turf. The others are Tropicana Field, home of the Rays, Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks, Marlins Park in Miami, and Globe Life Field, the new home of the Rangers. Interestingly, the Blue Jays have never had a natural turf stadium. The team’s previous home stadium, the exhibition stadium, in which it played from its foundation in 1977 to June 1989, also had artificial turf.
Initial reports said the plans would be released in the New Year, although the company announced to a Toronto radio station later on Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic had temporarily halted the development plan.
“Before the pandemic, we looked at options for the stadium. However, this year our main focus has been keeping our customers connected and protecting employees, so there is currently no update to the Rogers Center that we can share,” the company told 680News.
The Rogers Center opened as the SkyDome in 1989 and was the first MLB stadium with a retractable roof. It was also unique in that there was a hotel at the top of the outfield where fans could watch a game from their room. The building became known as the Rogers Center in 2005 after Rogers bought it.
The Blue Jays have not played an official game at the Rogers Center since 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada resulted in government regulations preventing the team from playing in their usual home for the 2020 season. Instead, it played its 2020 home flight schedule in Buffalo, NY. Still, the Jays had a successful year, went into the shortened MLB season with 60 games between 32 and 28 and made the playoffs a wild card.
It is unclear where the Blue Jays would play in the meantime should the plan for a new stadium progress.