TORONTO — Logistical issues won’t allow the Toronto Blue Jays to fast-track plans for a natural grass playing surface, but installing a dirt infield in the interim is something they’re examining.
While nothing is set in stone, the intriguing possibility is opened up by the Toronto Argonauts’ departure for BMO Field in 2016, two years ahead of schedule.
That won’t change the 2018 goal for putting grass into Rogers Centre, as first reported by Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Resolving issues such as ventilation, humidity control and the development of a sustainable turf blend all require time.
But putting in a dirt infield — no small task in its own right — might be possible before then with the Argos leaving after this season.
"I would say it is something we've discussed internally but certainly nothing definitive and certainly won't put a time on it," Stephen Brooks, the Blue Jays' senior vice president, business operations, said via email. "It requires the removal of several inches of concrete, and all the planning and logistics around committed events."
A dirt infield would ease the physical toll of playing on artificial turf for infielders and baserunners, while also offering a more aesthetically pleasing look.
The Tampa Bay Rays, the only other team in the majors with an artificial surface, have a dirt infield.