Blue Jays’ Shapiro: Improving fan experience a priority

Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro. (Nathan Denette/AP)

Mark Shapiro is hearing fans’ concerns and “absolutely looking to improve the fan experience in every single aspect.”

The Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO was a guest on Sportsnet 590 The Fan with host Mike Wilner Tuesday night ahead of the Blue Jays game against the Colorado Rockies. Wilner asked him questions submitted by fans, giving them a chance to voice their concerns to the president.

When asked about the long lines and tight spaces for fans at the Rogers Centre, Shapiro said he understands fan concerns but says when a team is popular, there will always be lines.

“(The Rogers Centre), while an engineering marvel, it’s clearly an outdated facility in many ways,” Shapiro said. “I would caution you on this, when you have sellout crowds, you are always going to have an issue with waiting, because there’s no ballpark in the world made to control a sellout environment.”

Another caller asked for Shapiro’s thoughts on the team playing Saturday games at night. Currently, the Blue Jays play Saturday home games at 1:05 p.m. Shapiro said when he first joined the Blue Jays last August, he was interested in night Saturday games but now sees the day games as really popular.

“Looking at what Saturday day games have been here, it’s hard to argue with their popularity and success,” Shapiro said. “Certainly, I would welcome fan feedback on that one. We’ll probably go out and survey and talk to fans sometime in the second half of the season and see if that’s something fans want us to consider.”

One day-game that fans always circle on their calendars is the upcoming one on Canada Day. For Shapiro, not only will it be his first Canada Day with the Blue Jays but it will also be a chance to see his old team. The team will be hosting the Cleveland Indians for the first time since he moved to Toronto.

When asked if this weekend will be extra emotional for him, Shapiro said he’s looking forward to seeing friends but will still be very much cheering for the Blue Jays.

“I’m looking forward to it, I love the people there and some people I spent 25 years with there,” he said. “That being said, when 1:05 hits and we take the field, there’s no confusion at all. You want to beat them and it’s personal, just like a friendly rivalry, you want to beat them a little more.”

Finally, Shapiro also left time to talk about the team’s current slump. The Blue Jays have lost six of their last eight games, including an implosion by the bullpen in a 9-5 loss to the Rockies Monday night. The losses have seen the team slip a little bit in the American League East standings, with them currently 5.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles.

Shapiro cautioned fans to not jump to major conclusions based on one slump but said that he and his staff are always looking at ways to make the team better.

“Any time you’re dealing in baseball, you’re balancing the emotions that you feel night to night,” he said. “That being said, if you look at our position both divisionally and in the wildcard, we’re not in a terrible spot.”

You can listen to the entire interview here.

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