In the almost 28 years since the Rogers Cente—then known as SkyDome—became the home of the MLB's Toronto Blue Jays in June, 1989, the once cutting-edge facility has become the 7th oldest of the league's 30 active stadiums. The stadium's retractable roof was considered a marvel of engineering at the time of completion, though in the years since, five other retractable roof MLB stadiums have joined the mix, and several stadiums devoted to other sports have been built as well. While talk of replacing the Rogers Centre has bubbled up in recent years as multipurpose facilities fall out of favour within the league, the now-sole tenant Toronto Blue Jays' parent company Rogers have indicated they have no interest in a new facility, instead committing to upgrade the existing stadium. The most recent of these upgrades was a $10 million retrofit of the stadium's signature retractable dome roof and its associated systems, which was completed earlier this year in time for the start of the upcoming Toronto Blue Jays home opener.
The stadium's roof is still unique among retractable roof designs, which along with antiquated technology and out-of-production parts, created some site-specific challenges for contractor New Electric. The dome consists of three moving panels and one fixed section, has a surface area of 8 acres, a weight of 11,000 tonnes, and a maximum clearance of 282 feet over the field. When opening, two of the moving panels slide on tracks and fit under the fixed northern panel, then the third moving panel rotates to fill the void in a process that took roughly 20 minutes prior to the recent upgrades.
A crew of 30 worked for two years to carry out the much-needed roof upgrades, which include a new OT (Operations Technology) network and control system, as well as a rooftop weather station that tracks weather systems to better predict game-time conditions for roof openings and closings. The new OT network and control system comes with a reduction in the required number of staff to open or close the roof, as well as a 46% decrease in the time needed to operate the roof. Other valuable improvements include fault tolerance, self-diagnostics, and reporting capabilities not offered by the previous system, allowing for simplified troubleshooting.
With one major upgrade to the Rogers Centre now complete, Blue Jays fans are looking to the future of the stadium, which is at an important crossroads in its history. Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro has indicated his intention to invest heavily in the stadium in the coming years, with talk of a full "re-envisioning" of the landmark, turning the multi-purpose stadium into a baseball specific venue.
What would you like to see happen to the Rogers Centre in the coming years? Let us know in the comments section provided at the bottom of this page. You can keep track of the ongoing talks of upgrades to the Rogers Centre by visiting our Forum thread.