On-Site Magazine

Fresh season brings fresh look for Toronto Blue Jays

By Adam Freill   

Construction Demolition Green Construction

Moving quickly during the off-season brings major upgrades to Rogers Centre, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

View from behind home plate. (Photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Some teams think of heading south to find the sun once baseball season wraps up, but not the team at PCL Construction, which sprang into action to ensure that the home of Canada’s MLB team would have fresh new look to start the 2024 baseball season.

Almost as soon as the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays season wrapped up, construction ramped up on Phase 2 of what has been a multi-year renovation project aimed at progressively transitioning the 35-year-old Rogers Centre stadium to feel more like a ballpark. This winter, the original 100-level infield seating bowl was fully demolished from foul pole to foul pole, getting redesigned for a baseball-first viewing experience. Along with changes to lower-bowl seating, the demolition and excavation that were part of the almost $400-million renovation also made room for a new clubhouse and player facilities.

“We have now utilized every square foot of space under our bowl,” said Sanj Perera, director of project development and construction management with the Toronto Blue Jays. “The majority of the player clubhouse is now under the bowl, in addition to a new umpires’ area and three new premium clubs.”

PCL broke ground on the second phase of the renovations on October 13, 2023, knowing that they had to complete the demolition and rebuild in time for opening pitch of the Jays’ home opener in April. The work saw an average of 350 tradespeople on-site daily, who logged some 400,000 worker hours.

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(Photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

“Planning a project of this magnitude took considerable effort. Working within an existing facility and infrastructure – which has undergone only minor renovations over the last 30 years – required a lot of design and engineering,” explained Perera. “The project itself had no certain start date, but a definitive end date.”

They had to be ready for first pitch.

“There was no option for a deadline extension with the home opener already set,” said Perera. “To undertake demolition, excavation, foundations, infrastructure, steel and precast in three months meant that we only had the remaining three months to complete the amenities beneath the bowl. This was a fast-tracked project and required everyone’s pledge for success.”

“With a staggering level of coordination and activity averaging 350 workers on site daily, six to seven days per week over the past six months, our workforce was fuelled by the passion of being part of a project that provides a sense of community,” said Monique Buckberger, vice-president and district manager for PCL Constructors Canada.

Working with many of the subcontractor partners who gained experience during Phase 1 helped keep the project moving, he added. Between the two phases of the project there were roughly 32 million pounds of materials removed and recycled, with 6,500 cubic metres of concrete poured between the two off-seasons, along with 3.3 million pounds of structural steel installed. The recycling efforts earned the Toronto Blue Jays the MLB 2023 Green Glove award for the organization’s commitment to diverting waste from landfills.

“We were able to achieve over 93 per cent waste diversion due to recycling during the renovation project,” said Perera. “Although we have been named as finalists for this award, it is our first time receiving the top honour.”

“Reimagining the home of the Blue Jays required an astonishing scope of work in a short timeframe,” said Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. “To build a sustainable championship organization, we needed a home that is specifically for baseball.”

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