Calling all Blue Jays fans, concert goers, and Torontonians! Below lies a behind-the-scenes tour of the well-known Rogers Centre from January 25th, 2016.
The Roof Control Room
Our first stop was the (newly renovated) roof control room where we met the building operator and electrician. Here, we learned that when the Rogers Centre, then the Skydome, opened in 1989, it held the first operating panel (see picture below) in the world for a retractable roof. Just four people are involved with the process of controlling the roof: the building operator, a plumber, an electrician, and the panel control manager. The panel control manager has several jobs aside from managing the panel, including constantly checking the weather conditions to see if they allow for the roof to be opened. During an event, namely a Blue Jays game, there are always people on the roof completing checks to make sure the roof is safe to open.
The roof typically opens around 3 or 4 pm each day, of course dependent on weather. We learned that although the roof should take about 25 minutes to open, like most things that get old, it is now running at a slower pace. In 2015, the roof took more like 45 minutes to open, as it had to be run at half speed in case of error. Staff have been working on improving the roof and certain motors and are hoping to have it back to the 25 minute mark this spring. The roof is also getting a new panel, which will be a small computer, to replace the old one shown above.
The Rogers Centre roof can’t handle any inclement weather. Similarly, after the 5th inning of a baseball game, the building manager and his team can’t open the roof. Also, on a side note, they can’t ever open mid-inning—the away team would object that it was done on purpose. During the regular season, the roof control room does not hear from the MLB at all. During playoff season, however, the roof is essentially “owned” by the MLB—they get to choose whether the roof will be opened or not.
The mechanics of the roof are quite technical—knowing how to manage the panel, holding the toggle to keep the skew straight, aligning both sides of the roof (if done wrong, the system could crash or shut down), knowing the exact moment that it’s okay to start opening or closing (waiting until 25 minutes after spectators have left the stadium), etc. There is a small trick that a game-goer can watch for to know if the roof will open: there is a little door just above where the stands meet the roof; this door must be open to liven up the panel/console. If you see it open, you will probably also see the roof opening as soon as the team is done their pre-checks.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ space is called a clubhouse—and not a locker room—for a reason. The coaches have their own showers, desks, and hanging spaces. There is a private workout area towards the back followed by meeting rooms and private offices. The trainer’s room features two cold tubs, plenty of organized first aid equipment, and benches.
The kitchen and dining area is decked out with tables, couches, flat screen televisions, computers, and serve yourself drink stations. The actual “locker room” area features a huge bathroom equipped with showers—the sinks lined up with the player’s individual toiletries—and a small kitchenette with protein-filled snacks and drinks. Each player has a desk and hanging area along with a Blue Jays crested chair surrounded by televisions and couches. The hallway leading from the locker room area to the kitchen is lined with memorabilia highlighting the Jays’ most celebrated moments.
Fun fact: U2 and Justin Bieber are the only two performing acts to have ever used the Blue Jays’ clubhouse as their change room. All other artists have only ever used the visitor’s change room (which we didn’t see, but we heard it is not as nice). How do you think T-Swift feels?
We ended the tour with a trip to the batting cages. As we were heading in, Blue Jays centre fielder Dalton Pompey was heading out. This wasn’t planned, but was definitely a highlight to end the tour on.
Photography by Ashley Posluns
Ashley is an Online Editor for onthedanforth.ca and a photographer for the On The Danforth summer edition. When she’s not binge-watching Gilmore Girls (or even when she is), she’s probably drinking tea, buying pens, or ordering free samples…. You can follow her on (any) social media site @ashleyposluns