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Volume 26 No. 227
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Blue Jays' Mark Shapiro Eyes Rogers Centre Renovation, New Spring Training Facility

Blue Jays President & CEO Mark Shapiro by the end of the season "expects to have plans in place for both a new spring training facility and a Rogers Centre renovation that will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars," according to Shi Davidi of SPORTSNET.ca. Both projects "remain in the planning stages, with a funding proposal for a revamped stadium and training site in Dunedin, Fla., currently under examination by officials at the Pinellas County level, and themes for what might be done at the dome emerging." The club recently installed a new C$1M weight room at Rogers Centre and has "waterproofing work taking place on the concrete exterior." The retractable roof must also be "replaced in the coming years, along with other less exciting upkeep tasks" for a ballpark that opened in '89. The Blue Jays also have "hired a design firm." Shapiro: “What we do have is themes that through focus groups and through research and through industry trends and analysis provided clear ideas of what we would be looking to achieve in a re-envisioning ... of the stadium. No. 1, would be to turn the stadium into a ballpark. Very simply that would be a top priority for us, which means (providing) a modern ballpark experience for our fans. What I would hope is that by mid-summer we have those concepts fully flushed out." But Davidi noted a "complicated matter may be how to get the construction done without leaving the Blue Jays homeless." The Dunedin project is "further along, with concepts for a refurbishment for Florida Auto Exchange Stadium already drawn up." The new facility the Blue Jays want for the Bobby Mattick Training Center "remains conceptual," and architectural drawings "won’t be drawn up until the funding is in place" (SPORTSNET.ca, 2/21).