Some wacky and wonderful ideas for making the Rogers Centre a better place to watch the Blue Jays
When it was built, the Rogers Centre was considered a marvel of modern architecture. Now, 28 years later, it needs a facelift. The concourse is looking a little shabby, the food offerings could stand to be improved and the general vibe of the ballpark might benefit from a little less concrete and a little more warmth. The Blue Jays organization is in the midst of figuring out how to renovate the stadium into a 21st-century ballpark.
Recently, some students at Western University’s Ivey Business School were tasked, as part of their curriculum, with thinking up ideas for Rogers Centre updates. One of the student groups went so far as to produce a YouTube video (embedded below) with renderings of what their proposals would look like in practice. We spoke with one of them, Habib Jaffer, about how he’d improve the dome.
“The Nest” glass platform
One of the group’s most intriguing ideas is “The Nest.” Essentially, it’s an overhang with a glass floor, similar to the transparent observation deck at the CN Tower. The Nest would be situated one level above the Flight Deck patio, in right field. “I know I’d come to the Rogers Centre if I could watch the game from a bird’s eye view, and feel like I’m standing on top of the game,” Jaffer said.
This seems feasible. The Blue Jays were able to transform the former Windows Restaurant into the Flight Deck between seasons, so they could probably build a new outfield platform in short order.
Upper-level glass donut
Another one of the group’s proposals is a little more ambitious: they’d have the Jays wall off the entire upper level of the Rogers Centre with a donut-shaped glass enclosure. This would require the removal of most, if not all of the seats on the 500 Level. The stadium’s capacity would need to be reduced by 10,000 to 15,000 in order to build this thing.
The newly protected area could house some restaurants and concession stands, as well as an area for shopping. As cool as this might turn out to be, it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, and would certainly take a preposterous amount of time to complete. It would also eliminate a lot of the stadium’s most affordable seats. Although it would be a one-of-a-kind feature for the Rogers Centre, the idea is probably too radical to be realized.
VR headset stations
How awesome would it be to see the very same pitch Jose Bautista saw in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS? “You could see the play from the batter’s viewpoint, and you could simulate trying to hit a pitch,” Jaffer said. It wouldn’t be too hard to pull this off at Rogers Centre: there’s real estate on the concourse level to set it up. It would still require an investment from the Blue Jays, though.
A hall of fame
A common pet peeve about the Rogers Centre is its lack of tribute to past Blue Jays teams and players. In other MLB ballparks, there are huge shrines and statues to historical figures from the home team’s past. In the Rogers Centre, there’s almost nothing.
The Ivey student group suggests installing a “Hall of Fame” around the upper level of the stadium. Not only would this help fill the historical gap, but it would create another place for fans to gather during games. This is presumably the sort of thing Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro is talking about when he says he wants to “turn the stadium into a ballpark.”
Taking a page out of the Disney playbook, the Ivey students want to create Blue Jays wristbands that fans could tap on wireless receivers, like credit cards, to enter the stadium and buy concessions. This may not appeal to the everyday Blue Jays fan, but it’s something that could take off with younger fans, who are often encouraged to visit special zones throughout the Rogers Centre during Saturday games. They could flash their wristbands at hubs throughout the stadium to collect points and get access to Blue Jays discounts or prizes.