Blue Jays rebuild? Rogers Centre renovations are well underway at least

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The roster makeover has yet to get started, but the Blue Jays home stadium is currently one of Toronto’s biggest construction projects.

A video released by the team on Tuesday offers a detailed and dramatic window into the second phase of the $300-million renovations to the Rogers Centre, an ambitious project due to be completed for the start of the 2024 season.

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Seats in the lower bowl have been removed, many of them to be replaced by premium seating areas that will provide more comfort and better views, but coming at a greater cost for Jays fans.

It’s all part of a rebuild the team is billing as a shift from a stadium to a ballpark for the dome’s primary tenant.

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Part of the pitch to fans — who supported the underachieving team to the tune of more than three million spectators in 2023 — is a lower bowl that will have seats oriented towards the infield, improved sightlines and views closer to the game action. As well, the lower bowl will have what the team describes as “modern-shaped seats” with additional leg room for fans.

“Our goal from the onset of renovations was to transform Rogers Centre from a stadium to a ballpark,” Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said when details of the latest phase of the renovation were announced last summer. “By completely rebuilding the 100 level seating bowl, we are introducing an authentic ballpark viewing experience.”

The current project follows last winter’s overhaul of the 500 level and the creation of a host of modern gathering spaces and bars in the outfield, areas that were a hit throughout the season.

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As the team video unveiled on Tuesday shows, the current project is a mammoth and dramatic one that, when completed, will dramatically change the feel of the downtown dome and in theory make it feel more like a baseball stadium than it ever has in its 35 years.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Construction got an earlier-than-expected start after the Jays’ brisk elimination from the playoffs, getting swept by the Minnesota Twins in a best-of-three series that prevented a post-season home game here.

The project has been massive from the start. To facilitate excavation a temporary bridge was installed over part of the lower seating bowl to accommodate as many as 10 excavators and 344 trucks involved in the demolition and excavation work.

As an indication of how much larger the current project is compared to the initial phase, the team reports that an average of 350 workers have been on site daily, more than three times the size of the phase one demolition.

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A view of construction at Rogers Centre.
A view of construction at Rogers Centre. Toronto Blue Jays

As the video shows, the roof has been opened for part of the work, including on Nov. 9, when a major piece of mechanical equipment was delivered by crane from Bremner Boulevard into Rogers Centre through the opening. The team says that approximately 500 truckloads worth of concrete are expected to be poured to complete the project.

It has been a busy fall to keep the ambitious reno on schedule. Structural demolition of the lower bowl took place from Oct. 13-26, removing more than 29.5 million pounds of materials.

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Field level excavation to accommodate below ground space for the new player facilities — including a rebuilt clubhouse — was done from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6.

To accommodate potential delays should they arise, the Jays will open the 2024 season with a 10-game trip leading to an April 8 home opener at the new-look stadium against the Seattle Mariners.

As for the renovations that matter most? The off-season work of general manager Ross Atkins is expected to heat up in the coming weeks as baseball’s free agency hits full stride at the annual Winter meetings in Nashville in the first week of December.

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