Rogers Center replacement far from a done deal

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TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays are proving to be an intriguing team this offseason for more than what they’re trying to accomplish with their roster.As they continue to be connected to all the important players available – “They are very flirty,” as one agent put it – a story from Andrew Willis of The Globe and Mail revealed on Friday that the owner of the team, Rogers Communications Inc., is looking to build a new stadium, rather than renovating the 31-year-old Rogers Center as part of a larger redevelopment of the property.

The creation of a sports-focused real estate project – a business model for team owners that is becoming the industry’s new regional sports network – is nothing new. Discussions on this front have been going on for several years.

What’s intriguing about Willis’ piece is that the thinking within Rogers (who also owns this website) and project partner Brookfield Asset Management Inc. seems to have managed to tear down the dome to build a new stadium, rather than trying to renovate it.

The possibility immediately sparked excitement, but a statement from Rogers sought to lower expectations: “Before the pandemic we were exploring options for the stadium, but throughout this year our main focus has been to keep our Connected customers and our employees safe, so there is no Rogers Center update to share at this time. ”

So what’s going on with all of this? Oh, and like George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, JT Realmuto, Michael Brantley, Francisco Lindor and all that fun stuff? Good time for an extensive Blue Jays FAQ:

So the Blue Jays have a new stadium?

Certainly Maybe is the name of an old Oasis album and also a fitting description of the situation.

Two of the people I spoke to today insisted that there was nothing new here, that this file had largely been dormant since last fall. An audit of the City of Toronto Lobbyists Registry confirms this, as there has not been a documented meeting since October 17, 2019 when a staff member of Councilor Joe Cressy, whose neighborhood includes the dome site, spoke with Jodi Parps, government manager at Rogers. relations, provincial and municipal. This followed a larger meeting on July 10, 2019 which included Cressy, two staff, Edward Rogers, RCI President Tony Staffieri, RCI CFO, Parps, Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro and Ben Colabrese, the club’s deputy director. president, finance.

Discussions focused on the future of the dome, the surrounding area and relevant city leases. COVID-19 has stopped progress, but that doesn’t mean the whole project has stopped. Modeling of the project likely continued between Rogers and Brookfield during this time, and they likely opted for a view of the site, broadly floating around the room by the well-connected Willis.

Beyond what he described, the project should involve a construction based on the idea of ​​Rail Deck Park which has been circulating for years. This would create more green space usable all year round and will be an important part of the whole plan.

Logic. Is it done then?

Far from. The three levels of government have a part of that, each one will have to be satisfied, and it is complicated.

Although Rogers owns the stadium, the land below is owned by the Canada Lands Company, a crown corporation that issued a 99-year lease until 2088 and whose zoning is reserved for stadium use. This is one of the main reasons the building sold for just $ 25 million in 2004 – how many businesses in the city need a domed stadium? Good.

A nature plan in question would require substantial rezoning. During the process of considering a renovation, the trend of sports-oriented development began to take hold and a series of interests began to align, turning it into a much larger project. In a statement Friday, Cressy said he was ready to re-engage, stressing the city’s interests in the business:

Other partners would likely be needed to achieve everything, especially the recreational and public elements. Bottom line, there are a lot of things that still need to snap into place, so don’t expect shovels in the ground anytime soon.

Cool, cool, cool. But what would happen to the Blue Jays if they demolished the Rogers Center?

Before you start mapping the route to Buffalo or prepping your liver for a few seasons in Montreal, remember what the St. Louis Cardinals did when they went from the old Busch Stadium to the new Busch Stadium. , which opened in 2006. The Cardinals broke new ground on the new location on Jan. 17, 2004, and spent the next two years building the guts of the new park before razing the old one to finish things off. This photo essay from the St. Louis Post Dispatch illustrates the process of what turned out to be a seamless transition.

The Rogers Center footprint is tighter, but there is land to the south of the building, as well as some on the west side and a little less to the east that could be used in a similar process. It’s a possibility that has been raised, according to multiple sources, in an effort to ensure the Blue Jays are not left homeless, even briefly.

Phew, that’s a lot to digest. As exciting as it may sound, what’s going on to get more players on this squad?

Work continues on this front, and boy is what I hear interesting. To build on the analogy made by the agent who said the Blue Jays are flirtatious, it seems like they’re legitimately trying to put rings on it. DJ LeMahieu has been described to me as “the perfect fit” and the fact that he didn’t immediately re-sign with the New York Yankees suggests that he is seriously considering his options in a more than superficial way. The New York Mets, under new owner Steve Cohen, are likely to be smoothing things out up there after making it clear they are there to win on multiple fronts. While the Blue Jays may be willing to establish the market, agents will likely want to wait for the Mets to let go.

This is impacting the market for another Blue Jays target at George Springer, with whom they’ve grown beyond simple conversation. Same with Michael Brantley, but while his left-handed bat and offensive profile are perfect for batting order, the way he adapts defensively is less consistent. Since he’s limited to left field and DH, that means pushing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. out of a place he’s just started to settle down. The Blue Jays aren’t afraid to create layoffs – good luck everyone being happy, Charlie Montoyo! – but it also creates a trade surplus.

Speaking of surplus, what’s going on with Catcher and the JT Realmuto report? Don’t they already have a bazillion of Seekers?

Craig Mish, who does a great job covering the Miami Marlins, dropped this information earlier in the week:

Intriguing, and not entirely surprising, as the Blue Jays also checked out Yasmani Grandal last winter, even though they have enviable depth behind the trim (bazillion might be a bit hyperbolic). They certainly hope that one of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno, Riley Adams and Reese McGuire will eventually become an impact safety net like Realmuto. But if they want to take their agenda forward, well, Realmuto is a star right now.

People are very calm and kept around this chatter, which gives credence to Mish’s tweet. Such a move would be a reminder of the Blue Jays signing Russell Martin to a five-year, $ 82 million contract ahead of the 2015 season to move the team forward. Adding a sixth receiver to the 40 players now would certainly be sub-optimal, but again, the surplus creates trading opportunities and they could use some of their youngsters to get help with the pitch.

What about pitching? Are they done signing Robbie Ray again?

No. The Blue Jays need someone who can win a rotation playoff game if they are to be for real.

Trevor Bauer is the obvious big ticket, but right now they seem more obsessed with positional players than pitchers. I don’t want to be repetitive, but I feel like they’d like to clarify their alignment, figure out what’s left, and then trade for help. They must feel like some teams will eventually have to unload guns (Texas with Lance Lynn, or Cincinnati with Sonny Gray, perhaps).

The Asian market is another opportunity here, with right-handed Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants and Kohei Arihara of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Shun Yamaguchi’s signing last offseason was made in part to build a bridge into the Japanese market, with an eye on the class of players available this winter. Sugano and Arihara are both scheming, but the real prize could be the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ Kodai Senga, if posted.

Finally, what about Francisco Lindor?

Several people have told me that the Blue Jays really want it. Well, duh. Who wouldn’t? As perfect as LeMahieu is to them, Lindor is even more perfect, even if he pushes Bo Bichette off court. This one is complicated, both because of the cost of acquisition in the trade, but also with its pending free agency. The continued lack of clarity on what it would take to sign him again is a big yellow light here and I have a feeling the Blue Jays won’t meet the Cleveland award without knowing if they can extend it.

Maybe it cuts down on the cost of acquiring Lindor, but Cleveland could also wait for no-impact agents to sign and then work with the teams left on the sidelines.



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