After years of conversation and speculation, it’s looking more and more likely that the much-maligned home of the Toronto Blue Jays is headed for the graveyard sooner rather than later.
Rogers Communications, which own the Blue Jays and the MLB team’s aptly named downtown stadium, have tabled a proposal to demolish the Rogers Centre and construct a new state-of-the-art ballpark in its place, according to Friday’s Globe and Mail report.
Rogers, along with real estate equity firm Brookfield Asset Management, also hope to transform the area near the stadium with a whole redevelopment, including restaurants, office buildings, stores and — of course — condos!
Sources reportedly told the Globe and Mail that the proposed stadium would feature a new natural grass field for the Jays which would take up the southern end of the current property, with residential towers, office buildings, stores and public space planned for the northern part of the lot.
The multi-billion dollar plan would also reportedly be completely funded privately — though Rogers and Brookfield are “working with all three levels of government” on the project.
Sportsnet Blue Jays reporter Shi Davidi noted some not-so-small obstacles in the way of the proposed development:
Tons of regulatory hurdles to clear for this, primary among them is that Rogers owns the building only, not the land, which is leased from Canada Lands Company through 2088. It is zoned for stadium usage only.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) November 27, 2020
According to the Globe and Mail report, construction of the new stadium would take around five-to-eight years. Rogers reportedly wants the new ballpark near or right where the existing one currently sits, but is also looking at alternate waterfront sites throughout the city — such as the 12-acre property where Sidewalk Labs bailed on building a “smart-city” project — if the proposed site falls through.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium but through this year our primary focus has been keeping our customers connected and employees safe, so there is no update on the Rogers Centre to share at this time,” Rogers CCO Sevaun Palvetzian told the Globe on Thursday.
The Rogers Centre — formerly known as SkyDome — cost $570-million to build back in 1989, with most of that coming from taxpayer funds. Rogers acquired the stadium in 2004 for $25-million.
Rogers and Brookfield executives have been presenting proposals and discussing their plans with Toronto’s city councillors and other politicians for more than two years, according to lobbying records presented by the Globe.
The report adds that sources say the two companies, along with government officials, plan to go public with their plans early in the new year. Both Brookfield and Rogers are reportedly pitching local, provincial and national politicians on a development proposal that “builds a vibrant neighbourhood, while keeping the Jays downtown.”
The Jays played their home games in Buffalo last season because of the closed Canada-U.S. borders due to the pandemic, and it’s not yet clear where the team would play while a new park is being built.
More coverage from Yahoo Sports