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.