By Rick Van Warner
In a day that will go down in club history, the Toronto Blue Jays officially unveiled the completed first phase of Rogers Centre renovations featuring a brand-new Outfield District that will transform the fan experience at the 34-year-old ballpark. Blue Jays fans can enjoy the spaces starting with the 2023 Home Opener on April 11, with five distinct neighborhoods and many additional new social spaces available to everyone with a game ticket.
Mark Shapiro, President & CEO, Toronto Blue Jays, was joined by Edward Rogers, Chair of the Toronto Blue Jays and Chair of Rogers and Tony Staffieri, President and CEO, Rogers, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reveal the largest-scale infrastructure project since Rogers Centre opened in 1989. The new Outfield District is part of a multi-year $300 million privately funded renovation that will be completed between 2024 and 2025.
“We have the unique privilege of representing a dynamic city and have reflected that energy in the reimagined ballpark,” Shapiro said. “We are extremely excited to debut these spaces to both lifelong and new Blue Jays fans.”
The result is a dramatically different Rogers Centre experience, immediately noticeable when fans enter the ballpark. Designed with Populous, the new Outfield District – available to every fan with a game ticket – features social spaces to gather with friends and get closer to the action; live entertainment off the field; and food and beverage menus that reflect the city of Toronto.
“We’ve worked to completely transform the stadium into a ballpark that features the latest amenities for a wide range of fans and provides best-in-class facilities for players and their families,” said Ben Naudet, Populous project designer for the Rogers Centre Outfield District. “We couldn’t be more excited with the design and functional changes made to modernize the fan experience and build a great ballpark.”
“Rogers Centre is home to Canada’s baseball team, and I’m delighted to see the first phase of this renovation project come to life for Blue Jays fans,” Rogers said. “We’re proud of the team and we’re proud to invest in the ballpark, a landmark in the heart of downtown Toronto.”
“We’re deeply committed to supporting the team and to delivering the best fan experience both on and off the field,” Staffieri said. “These renovations will bring the heart of the city into the ballpark and create a sense of community for fans attending the game.”
The Blue Jays began the first phase of renovation construction on October 14, 2022, with PCL Construction. The structural demolition took 35 days and approximately 21,000 worker hours, with the new build beginning on November 14, 2022.
“The dynamics for how fans experience a game and their expectations for different options are evolving quickly,” said Derek Sommers, Populous associate principal. “We designed everything in the Rogers Centre Outfield District with this in mind, fostering more of a social, dynamic atmosphere.”
Five Outfield Neighborhoods
1. Corona Rooftop Patio (500L right field) – this rooftop patio oasis is the new place to be nestled in Toronto’s iconic skyline where fans can gather with friends while enjoying live music beneath the CN Tower and a summer patio menu.
2. Park Social (500L left field) – a park within the park for fans of all ages featuring games, food truck-style bites, and comfortable places to hang out while watching the game.
3. The Stop (100L center field behind the batter’s eye) – your neighborhood bar to grab a quick drink and bite with friends on the way to your next Outfield District destination; an ode to stadium history in a space originally planned as a transit stop.
4. The Catch Bar (100L right field above the visitors’ bullpen) – the place to see and be seen; grab a cocktail and perch above the visitors’ bullpen with unprecedented views to catch all the action up close.
5. WestJet Flight Deck (200L center field) – the place fans know (and love!) has a refresh with retro arcade games, brewery-style menu, and the same great vibe.
New Social Spaces
1. Schneiders Porch (200L right field corner) – this open-air porch has epic views of right field as well as one-of-a-kind hot dog culinary creations and direct bar access, so you don’t miss a minute of the action.
2. Rogers Landing (right field corner beside the visitors’ bullpen) – bring your glove to this open-air home run landing pad with uninterrupted front-row views of the outfield and visitors’ bullpen.
3. Bleacher Seating (100L bowl behind the visitors’ bullpen) – calling all hardcore fans… watch opposing pitchers in these retro-style bleachers directly behind the visitors’ bullpen.
4. Left and Right Field Balconies (100L concourse outfield corners overlooking the home and visitors’ bullpens respectively) – prime bullpen views await to watch pitchers warm up while taking in the action over left and right field.
5. Drink Rails (throughout ballpark) – grab a drink and post-up at a new spot every inning, with countless options around the concourse.
Additional Completed Projects
1. Raised Bullpens (left and right field) – bringing fans closer to the action to cheer on their Blue Jays pitchers.
2. Player Weight Room (field level) – 5,000 square foot best-in-class facility to help players prepare, compete, and recover.
3. Players’ Family Spaces (field level) – dedicated kids’ room and spouses’ lounge to support the team behind the Blue Jays team.
4. Staff Spaces (100L) – overhauled game day staff facilities to support more than 1,000 staff who are essential to the Blue Jays fan experience.
Additional New Innovation
1. Tap N Go (section 104) is a new automated market to speed up service where fans tap payment on entry, select their food and beverage items, and are automatically charged on exit.
2. Walk Thru Bru (sections 125 and 519) are self-serve beverage-focused concessions so fans can spend more time enjoying the game.
Rick Van Warner is with Great Ink.