The expansion to BMO Field was voted on by Toronto’s city council yesterday, and the motion passed by a count of 39-3, with Rob and Doug Ford both being among the three to vote nay. Never heard of them.

The Toronto Star has the details on the vote, which almost certainly ensures that BMO will be the new home of the Toronto Argonauts.

But the thing about that is, don’t get too excited about grass showing up at the Rogers Centre anytime soon. BMO itself is a big undertaking, and they haven’t cleared all the hurdles quite yet — though Duncan Fletcher of TFC blog Walking The Red, who for obvious reasons has been following the issue closely, doesn’t see that as being a problem.

Next up is getting the $10m that MLSE is asking for from the provincial and federal governments, but let’s face it, that’s already in the bag, the appropriate people have already been wined and dined and taken to see a Leafs game with Drake, all that sort of thing. Though Ottawa seems to be talking a tough game, this will happen.

So… the Argos are moving to BMO, and the plan — given how obvious the need is for them to get out of Rogers Centre, and all the talk about using the upgraded version of the facility for the Pan Am Games — seems to be to make it sooner rather than later, yes. But here’s something: I’ve heard a whisper that part of the reason some of the talk from the Jays and Rogers that makes it seem like they’re more in the “later rather than sooner” camp on this is actually because what the Jays are planning — in addition to the added grass and all of Paul Beeston’s convoluted blather about wind currents or whateverthefuck — is a much bigger project than maybe you think.

As in: it will involve replacing the roof.

It sounds crazy, I know but that’s what somebody told me.

And maybe it doesn’t even sound that crazy.

I wrote in September of 2012, after the roof malfunctioned mid-game, allowing rain in on several sections of the stands, about “the potential of a future where, due to continued breakage and difficulty of getting parts for the ultra-specialized 20-year-old structure, it becomes necessary to close the dome permanently.”

It’s a terrifying thought, yet maybe not even as much science fiction as it is science fact. My understanding — and don’t get me wrong, it’s limited almost entirely to hearsay — is that the gears and various other inner-workings of the retractable roof are one-of-a-kind, and not simply replaceable by a new part that can be pulled from some warehouse shelf shipped in. My understanding is also that the old girl doesn’t quite move like she used to, either. The malfunction in 2012, although the only one to date to have happened in-game, speaks to that quite clearly, I think. Plus, what I was told was that growing grass in the building may require the roof to open and close more quickly than it currently does.

Does any of that alone mean my anonymous tipster was right? Does it mean fans can feel better about the strange delays we’ve heard of and stop fearing that the Rogers Centre going to stay multi-use while Rogers pointlessly courts and NFL team that will temporarily play there? Does the stuff about needing the roof to open faster even make sense?

Hardly. Right now this is entirely just something that a reader emailed to me, and that may vaguely line up with certain things we know about the state of the facility.

But there may even be reason why, if it’s true, the Jays aren’t simply coming out and saying that this is the plan. Probably not great for business to run down their own roof or raise the grim spectre of the damn thing one day being irreversibly fucked. Grass is one thing — dangling that carrot offers hope, plus it really only impacts the players and the visual experience — but this is altogether something different.

I’m reaching, of course — though not out to the Jays, who I suppose I could just contact and ask about all this, assuming they’d take my call — but I figured it was interesting enough to pass along. Even if, again, it’s purely unsubstantiated rumour that in no way you should take as gospel, or as reason to start weeping for Jose Reyes’s hamstrings (any more than you already might be, that is).


Glorious image still via James_in_TO.

Comments (72)

  1. I am having all of the feels today regarding my favourite team. Hope. Despair. Loathing. Love…. Gas…

  2. Would love to see grass in the dome obviously but I just can’t see Rogers making that kind of investment. Maybe it’s because of what’s been revealed today but I have trouble seeing the bean counters approving the investment.

    Hoping I am wrong. Who knows maybe if the start another rebuild and slash payroll then their will resources available.

  3. I am so tired of the constant bullshit that comes along with the Jays. Are they a big market team? Are they a small market team? We need grass, we need the Argos gone….Rogers Center is a cavern….blah…blah…blah…

    I just wish this team had owners who gave a shit. An eccentric billionaire who bought the team because they love the game of baseball, and has nothing better to do then funnel money into them to make them successful on the field. LOL. I want a Mark Cuban. Goddammit.

  4. …sorry….realize my mini-rant has nothing to do with Stote’s post.

  5. wow! Fascinating, Stoeten!

    If they’re going to the trouble of adding grass and replacing the roof, who knows… maybe we could see a major restoration where they take out the hotel and some outfield seats too. Really make it baseball only.

    It’s not that farfetched. Guys like Blair and Bruce Arthur have been writing for months that MLSE already has sketches of NFL stadium proposals. If they built that, you’d have to think ti’d become Toronto’s ‘multi purpose facility’, leaving the dome to focus on being more baseball centric.

    • it’s not that far-fetched, until you think about how they dicked around with signing santana because they were trying to save a million or two. at this point, the very idea that they’d sink money into something jays-related that doesn’t have an immediate & tangible ROI is what seems far-fetched.

      • Maybe it is large, coming financial expenditures like roof replacements and real grass had something to do with nickel and dining after last years spending spree? Or not. Just sayin though…

  6. Stick to baseball

  7. Interesting.

    But can someone with knowledge suggest why the roof would need to open and close faster to facilitate grass? The only thing I can think of is that they need to have the open 99% of the time for grass and only close it when it’s raining too hard. So I guess maybe in the event of a downpour 45 minutes is too slow?

  8. I would guess that none of the openable dome stadiums have much in the way of standard parts – they are simply too rare and each is unique – but that really isn’t the issue. You simply reach an end of life for the parts and order new ones made. They certainly should have all the original drawings, and a little money spent on engineering could results in even better replacement parts thanks to new materials and better manufacturing processes.

    The biggest threat to the dome is if something in the original design/build was wrong and something shifts, and 20 plus years on it still works so…

    I mean, if you are going to go through the expense of designing and building a new roof, you may as well just do a new stadium and be done with it.

    • There is nothing exotic about the mechanism that the roof closes on. It’s basically drawbridge stuff and nothing that can’t be machined at a reasonable cost. Rod Robbie, the architect of the dome was very mindful of making it out of old school bulletproof tech.

    • Yeah why not build a new stadium instead that’s what I keep wondering. Apparently everyone hates the building (never been to it yet) so why spend more money on it at all?

      • Who would pay for a new Blue Jays stadium? And where would you put it? The Rogers Centre is in a pretty good location as it stands.

  9. I can say with knowledge that RC is going to undergo a renovation akin to that of BC Place, with a similar new roofing structure. I’d expect tender invites to start being sent within two years.

    Going to be very interesting to see how they accommodate baseball during the reno.

    • That would be consistent with the “air flow” comments Beeston made about allow the grass to grow better.

      A major overhaul of the facility done properly is way better than shoehorning grass in.

      • The only reason I know about it is because exterior cladding is going to be a part of the redesign. But really, find me one building that hasn’t been totally overhauled in 25 years, particularly the interior. You would struggle to find one. Hell, even the exterior of the ACC is starting to look a bit dated.

    • That roof was 560 fucking million dollars. Build a new fucking stadium for that price tag for Christ sake!

      I do not live in Toronto or have the slightest idea what real estate is worth in that area but I am guessing the land the Skydome is built on is worth a billion dollars. To those that know, how far off am I?

      • Yeah, that is probably the case considering condos downtown go for $500 to $600 per square foot.

  10. Doc and Dusty Mac in da house tonight! Feels like 2007

  11. If they changed the roof and re-did the entire north end of the stadium, I could see this possible working. But that’s still probably going to cost north of $200 million, right? For what will still be a huge compromise, feel like a multi-use facility and be one of the most cavernous ballparks in the game. It basically means we’ll have the Rogers Centre until 2040.

    It’s too bad they didn’t have home plate positioned at the north end. It would be far easier to give it more of a ballpark feel if they could open up the south end, where the stadium isn’t half-buried, and have views of the harbour/water.

    Sunroof the mofo!

  13. Wait a minute…..”Rob and Doug Ford both being among the three to vote nay”…. Stoeten has been on record of keeping BMO a soccer facility.

    So Stoeten, Rob and Doug Ford share the same view on an issue.

    • TImmy Leiweke is going to get a big wake up call when the newly-reinvigorated TFC faithful start making noise about not wanting the Argos at BMO.

      • Sure some people will bitch and complain, but ultimately most sports fans are sheep with deep void in their lives of which following their team is simply solution.

        Remember those hard liners who vowed “never to go to a baseball game again after they cancelled the World Series”? How many of those people are left? Even if a sports fan managed to stick to a principal above filling that void in their life that sports delivers for so many they are just replaced by another generation of fans/customers.

        The beat goes on…

    • I’d party with Rob Ford and relish snorting coke off of his man titties. Kind of like banging the Queen, it’s on my bucket list.

  14. So if they’re putting a new roof in, let alone redesigning the main structure, that’ll eat up a season.

    The Jays would play that season at the Big O.

    The Montreal weekend was a feasibility study in disguise.

    We’re through the looking glass, people.

  15. I worked for the company that supplied the gearboxes and whatnots (SEW Eurodrive) that make the roof move, and gears that big are always custom made to spec, and there’s a place in the GTA that SEW uses to make custom gears.

    So….that’s not an issue. If there’s a will to keep the roof on as is, it can be done. If whispers are starting to float around about a replacement roof, it may be some leaks coming from Rogers to start building public sentiment to replace the roof and get some public money for the reno.

    The BC Place roof is fabric and I can’t see that working in that snowy hell you call Ontario.

  16. I’ve always wondered how much they might be able to alter the Dome. I mean, could they theoretically strip off the roof, rip down that shitty hotel and make those giant windows on the concourse openable to get some air in? It’d cost a shit-tonne, I know, but if we’re going to watch baseball in that building for another few decades it’d be money well spent.

    • Don’t forget all the tax deductions in capital expenses that would offset the profits in the other parts of Rogers Media.

  17. My complete and utter speculation is that the land on which Ontario Place now sits is being kept vacant for future entertainment use. The real estate on which the SkyDome sits is prime real estate. I could see them financing a new stadium build with a loan secured by the land on which the SkyDome sits and then selling that land.

    While I think we’re far too pussified a fanbase to go whole cold-weather hog like Cleveland or Minnesota (“REMEMER EXHIBITION STADIUM? DISASTER!), I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that a new MLB stadium gets built where Ontario Place used to be. It would also reduce the load on the Gardiner and it’s right next to a universe of parking on the Ex Grounds.

    Anyone think the above has any realistic chance of ever happening?

    • Yes, but in about 15 to 20 years.

      If the Rogers Media succeeds in build in Yankee/YES type empire a New Yankee Stadium will come to Toronto.

      Before that happens RC will be renovated, and Rogers Media has to be making so much money that it will become “too expensive” to sit on the cash.

      So yes, but in about 15 to 20 years.

    • I have to say I really like this idea. Rogers could possibly make money by doing this and would probably get provincial and federal funding (bad) for “revitalising” Ontario Place. While they could sell or redevelop the site RC sits for a nice chuck of change. Target field cost $390 million add another $50 million for a retractible roof and there you go for $250 million of there own money. And for reference the BC Place reno cost $514 million!!

  18. Anthopoulos: “We were 29th in ERA last year. We need to have better starting pitching in 2014.”

    Well, maybe if you actually improved the rotation over the winter..

  19. 10 million from the government to expand a soccer stadium and I’m stuck right now on a Fucking streetcar that in the year 2014 is actually turned by a guy going outside with a little metal cane and nudging the track to the side. What a joke we are.
    Nice work, government.

  20. ha .. its come to guessing on the inner workings of a mechanical roof? dipping into horticultural matters … not sure how it could matter for a grass field if a roof opens in 20 minutes (time today) or 10 minutes (future???) … grass isn’t that temperamental.

    we have the 8th wonder of the natural world … why worry about it!

    maybe if you put everything together you have something that could delay putting in Grass .. but does Rogers even need an excuse at this point .. with all the recent small time nonsense lets just assume it will happen in 3 years and be happy should it happen faster like it absolutely can .. “#crappyowners

  21. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but this commentator “Nick” in the last few articles has always been pro-Rogers. Almost feels like he’s a corporate shill /. rogers employee trying to sway public opinion (which is obviously not going to happen but still).

    If anyone else noticed or notices, at least I know I’m not wearing a tin foil hat lol

  22. I just can’t fathom that new gears and parts could not be reproduced. These do not need to be on warehouse shleves. It’s called preventative maintenance, I would think they inspect these parts during off seasons and would retool and replace worn out parts when not in use.

    As for the closing time thing. Seems ridiculous. Why would it ossicle need to close faster? Oh no, can’t get the grass wet! Or oh no, can’t let the real, natural sun hit the grass, quick close the roof! That just doesn’t add up.

    Now, I do think your little birdie has info. And I do think that they are making changes and would be foolish not to consider a roof update or change when adding the natural grass feature.

    We know that RC is an indoor stadium with a retractable roof, not an outdoor stadium that closes, so there is going to have to be a roof that completely closes. A Safeco type roof will not work, which is unfortunate.

    I will be intrigued to see what engineers come up with on this brain buster…

  23. ふる

  24. Rob and Doug vote no because none of that money is being funneled to their developer buddies firms. They are still happy thou, as their is some Scarborough subway money heading their way! Fuck yeah!

  25. That blog is called waking the red… Walking? Why would they be taking the red for a walk?

  26. At what point does Rogers go to the City/Province/Feds and ask for money for a NEW stadium. Aging facility, new roof needed, permanently closing the roof…reminds me of the Big O and the Expos. If replacing the roof sounds extreme, I dont see it as too much more of a step forward to begin talking about a new stadium…and if the Gov’t doesnt step up with funding, I dont see Rogers ponying up. Going to the ultimate extreme…do we begin to talk about the Jays moving in 10 years? 15 years? if we keep going down this road…doesnt sound that much out of the realm of possibility at all.

  27. Test.

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