Right, so three days ago in a comment thread about whether major stadium and arena construction is likely to slow down in coming years (because of Covid and shifting political winds), FoS reader Aqib wrote,
By my count there are 2 MLB teams (Oakland and Tampa) that are in the market for new stadiums
and I replied,
the Diamondbacks have already said they’re considering a new stadium, the Blue Jays and White Sox have at least been kicking tires, and teams like the Indians and Orioles have talked about significant renovations
and they replied,
Blue Jays? All I heard was that they were looking at refurbishing the stadium to make it a pure baseball park, but that was 5 years ago. Is there anything new?
and I replied,
Nothing lately — that was the tire-kicking I referred to. But you don’t put Chekhov’s gun on the mantel unless you’re going to use it eventually.
By “eventually” I didn’t actually mean “by the end of this week,” but here we are:
The owner of the Toronto Blue Jays wants to demolish the Rogers Centre and construct a new stadium as part of a downtown Toronto redevelopment, according to sources involved in the project…
Rogers Communications Inc. and the real estate arm of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. are working with city, provincial and federal government officials on a plan that would effectively cut the Rogers Centre in half.
The partners would build a new, baseball-focused stadium on the foundations of the southern end of the current facility and adjacent parking lots. The northern portion of the 12.7-acre site would be turned into residential towers, office buildings, stores and public space.
Rogers is also considering building a new stadium on a lakefront site if plans for the Rogers Centre fall through.
The Globe & Mail reports that the project would cost “multibillion” dollars, and would be “privately funded” (by Blue Jays owners Rogers Communications) and developers Brookfield, but “needs numerous government approvals to move forward.” It also would use federally owned land, which raises all sorts of questions about how much the team and developers would pay for this valuable property, and whether the development would pay property taxes (more common for private developments on public land in Canada than in the U.S., but still not a given), and generally sets up the potential for a Canadian version of Anaheim’s “We’re getting market value for our stadium land but also not really” scenario.
The report also says that lobbying records show the Jays and Toronto officials have been discussing this plan for two years, that rebuilding the stadium “is expected to play out over five to eight years,” and that “it is not clear where the team would play if its Toronto stadium is being torn down and rebuilt.”
SkyDome — now the Rogers Centre officially, but still once and always SkyDome — was opened 31 years ago (by Alan Thicke, for some reason), and as noted the Jays have made faint noises about leaving for a new stadium before, so this is slightly less shocking than when the Atlanta Braves owners announced they were leaving their then-17-year-old stadium to move to suburban Cobb County or the Texas Rangers owners announced they would be moving across the street from their only marginally older stadium to one that was the same only with air conditioning. But still pretty shocking! There are, as noted, still a whole lot of unknowns about this one, so I think we can say we’re going to spend much of 2021 discussing all its ramifications. And if we end up spending 2022 on the Chicago White Sox, don’t say I didn’t warn you.