Better Blue Jays - But The Centre Isn't A Ballpark Just Yet

Back in 2020 made some suggestions of what Rogers could do if they were going to build a new stadium or make some major renovations. We all know now that they chose the latter. They did most of the heavy lifting already, but there’s always more that can still be done.

The kids, well not kids anymore, and I have toured quite a few ballparks prior to the pandemic. We’re up to 17 now. Love doing the tours and taking notes of what works and what doesn't.  

Had noted some of my observations for ideas on how to improve the Rogers Centre for baseball. Here were my Top 10 suggestions and a comparison for what they did and what still may be to come.  

1. Angle the Seats - they did do this - but the steep incline has now created a significant blind spot down the line. So expect these seats to be in less demand than the better value ones in the upper deck. 

  1. 2. Permanent Team Standings Display - idea here is to have the courage to show everyone where you stand in relation to the competition. Have the courage to wear your results on your sleeve - so to speak. The Red Sox do it and the Jays used to do it back in the old Exhibition Stadium where team logos were placed in order in the standings.  Still waiting on this to add a little more old school charm to the place. 

    3. Open Air Vistas of Downtown - the dome makes you feel trapped - even with the roof open. The new bar areas are great - but blow out some walls and let people enjoy views of the city. Have removable insulated windows installed so the warm air can be felt when it arrives for the summer.  Make this happen in the next phase.

     4. More Dirt - Great we have a dirt infield - but time to rip up the painted brown carpet and remove the concrete again for the warning track. If the Jays really care about player safety - this should be a top priority. The change in texture you feel at your feet helps you know the wall is near when your eye is on the ball. Painted turf doesn’t do this. I know removing concrete is quite an ordeal - but let’s hope this happens in the next phase. 

    5. Get High Up- Imagine putting a bar way up above the game. It would be one of the coolest spots - not only in baseball - but sport. With epic views of the lake - this destination bar - could claim the highest vantage point in sport - hello sponsors. Yes, it would take some major renos - or they could do it on the cheap and allow limited access across the catwalk - for an additional fee of course.

     6. Rename It - I am actually surprised they haven’t done this yet. Since, Shapiro has done an incredible job trying to turn the Centre into a ballpark with Rogers money - the least the team could do is name it after the man who started the company.  Call it Ted Rogers Park. Nobody plays baseball in a Centre. Meet you at the TRP has a nice ring to it.

     7. Re-Price Empty Seating Sections - As mentioned in #1 - this looks like it’s still an issue with the blind spot.  It never looked good on TV seeing this section empty.  Same issue is happening - at least at the games that I have been to so far with the upper deck filled and these empty. Lower the price and get them filled. 

    8. Destination Bars and Unique Spots of Significance Destination Bars and Unique Spots and Markings - Check. Well done Jays - well done! Still would like some destination spots that mark items of significance. I wanted to mark the seats for homers that reached the fifth deck - similar to what they do on Eutaw Street at Camden. Those seats are gone now - but some of the standing only spots remain and they could approximate the location and put a marker there.  Idea here is that you want lots of different places to visit at your ballpark. Like the Bob Uecker - “he missed the tag” worst seat in Milwaukee.  

    9. Celebrate - the Level of Excellence is a nice start - but the Blue Jays have enough history now that they can celebrate their greats. Do this inside or outside the ballpark - but make it accessible for all to see. Also adds another place to visit to satisfy #8 

    10. Make it the Destination - If the Jays ever do move out of the TRP - then follow the same plan most owners do in the States.  Take a run down part of the city and buy up the land for cheap. Build your stadium and lease out or own all the hotels, restaurants and bars that soon pop up to be next to the destination anchor tenant. Next thing, the bad area of town is the place to be and property values shoot up.  Now you know why the Braves and others keep moving into new stadiums so often.  The real estate around the dome is already very valuable, so I was surprised the Jays didn’t decide to do this and build near the lake in the east end - maybe next time. If they do ever build a new stadium, make sure it has the city landscape as the backdrop - it makes a big difference.

One more for good measure…

11. Embrace Canada - replace the Hot Dog and President’s Race - with a Prime Ministers Race and mark the outfield distance in metres like the Expos did instead of feet.

Now let’s end this JUSTCAWS with baseball’s equivalent of a mic drop…

By Gregory Cawsey