Beeston: Major retrofit of Rogers Centre possible

Rogers Centre (Nathan Denette/CP)

The Toronto Blue Jays acknowledge that Rogers Centre needs improvement, but instead of pursuing a new stadium elsewhere, they’ve considered extensively retrofitting their home park to modernize the in-game experience.

“It really needs a major upgrade from the point of view of it’s 26 years old and it probably needs any type of amount from $200 million to $400 million to fix it up,” Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston told Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Wednesday.

LISTEN: Paul Beeston on The Jeff Blair Show

Beeston wants the Blue Jays to continue playing in downtown Toronto, which is part of the reason he believes upgrading Rogers Centre could work.

“People will criticize the stadium,” he said. “You can’t criticize the location.”

The Blue Jays have looked at designs for stadium renovations over the years and have come to believe that a retrofit can be done. The team is already working with the University of Guelph to find ways of adding natural grass to Rogers Centre by 2018.

Initially known as SkyDome, Rogers Centre has been the Blue Jays’ home since June 5, 1989. The retractable-roof stadium has a maximum capacity of 49,539 for baseball, though it’s also host to other events including concerts and home games for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

Beeston is now entering his final season as Blue Jays president, so his successor will have the responsibility of determining whether to leave Rogers Centre as-is, renovate or pursue a new stadium. One way or another, Beeston believes an upgrade is on the way.

“I think you will see something done at some point in time, but [Rogers Centre] is 26 years old,” Beeston said. “Everyone forgets about that. Everyone forgets this is one of the older stadiums in the league and getting to be one of the older stadiums in sports.”

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