Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is It Finally Time To Make Rogers Centre SkyDome Again?

Back in August it was announced that MLSE had come to an agreement with Scotiabank for the naming rights on what is currently called the Air Canada Centre, which will see the owners of the Leafs, Raptors, and TFC take in $800 million over the course of the next 20 years. Two months later, it turns out that the geniuses at Rogers Communications have perhaps decided that, “Hey, maybe we could get some of that kind of action for ourselves!”

Or so says a tweet from Bob Elliott:

Now, for a variety of reasons I don’t think the naming rights on the Rogers Centre are likely as valuable as the ACC. Sure, the Jays play 81 home dates, and the Leafs only play 41, but the Raptors play 41, too, there is a far busier concert calendar at the ACC than at the Rogers Centre, and both of those teams play in leagues where the barrier for playoff entry is quite a bit lower, and the number of potential playoff home dates is bigger, too.As Sportsbooks like Bodog suggest, the Leafs and Raptors could host a handful of playoff games this season. Plus, the Leafs are the Leafs, and the Jays are… not. And, perhaps, the fact that the Rogers Centre isn’t a particularly telegenic building would factor as well.

That said, maybe not quite worth $40 million per year doesn’t mean that the idea couldn’t be tremendously lucrative for the club — that is, assuming the majority of any revenue from the deal would go to the Jays, which I will grant is a big assumption, but one that’s maybe not quite as enormous as some fans will inevitably scoff (the Jays’ payroll was at $45 million in 2005, $70 million in 2011, crossed the $100 million mark for the first time in 2013, and this season pushed $164 million, i.e. they’re not quite as hard done by anymore as we often still believe). In fact, depending on how evenly the money is split up among teams in the MLSE fold, the Jays themselves might be even to do better.

I don’t know, obviously, but clearly, even if Rogers skimmed some of it off to offset their own lost opportunity to have their name on the building, and even if we consider that the MLSE-Scotiabank deal is in Canadian dollars, meaning it’s only for $32 million per year in the American dollars the Blue Jays operate in, obviously this could be pretty good for the club in a lot of ways. I wrote about a bunch of these back when ACC deal was announced.

One aspect that I didn’t touch on very much back then was PR, but hoooooly shit, there is certainly a way this could be a pretty big win for the Jays in that respect, too. Though, personally, I find the original name of the building a little on the corny side, and the people who will aggressively stan for that name more than a little bit weird, I’ll admit that I can think of few things that the beleaguered folks running the Jays could do that would be a bigger PR win than restoring some form of the name SkyDome.

Granted, there would also have to be a corporate name in there, but still.

Now, when discussing this on Twitter on Sunday, I was quickly reminded by several people that the likely reason Rogers didn’t make the building the Rogers SkyDome in the first place — or that the ACC didn’t carry on the name “Gardens,” the Bell Centre (or Molson Centre, as it was first called) didn’t go with “Forum,” etc. — was that it would defeat the purpose of the branding. People were so used to the shortened versions of the old names that they simply would ignore the sponsor’s part of it. There is, however, precedent for keeping the name, and, perhaps interestingly, it involves a company that could plausibly have interest in getting their name on the Rogers Centre.

When the Celtics and Bruins moved out of the fabled Boston Garden and into a new building adjacent to the old one, it was called the FleetCenter. but eventually the naming rights were acquired by TD Banknorth, an American subsidiary of Toronto-Dominion. In 2005, the Associated Press reported that the company had agreed to pay $5 to $6 million per year for 20 years for building to be called TD Banknorth Garden. Since then, thanks to corporate mergers, it’s been shortened simply to the TD Garden.

There was no fear there that the branding would be lost, or so the price tag suggests. And, really, why would there be? The official broadcasts and reports are always going to use the full official name — a quick Google news search on the name “TD Garden” shows that it’s used all over the place — and that’s probably where the value is anyway. So, as much as I call the fetishising of the old name a bit strange, even I can admit that you’d hope to hell that, should the Jays go down this path — which they absolutely should — all involved would have the good sense and the vision to do it in a way that brings back the SkyDome name.

Nobody will shed a tear, or write a petition, to bring back the name Rogers Centre once it goes away. And with rumblings that Rogers may consider selling the Jays in the near future, perhaps there’s even more reason to consider getting the company’s name off the building.

In other words, IT’S ALL WIN!

Now watch them screw it up.

(Of course, if they get creative with a sponsor, they could make all this moot!):

  • Barry

    Personally, I don’t get the love for the name “SkyDome.” Often it feels like people only like that name as a rejection of the name “Rogers Centre.”

    SkyDome was, to me, a cheesy, charmless, name. It was controversial when first selected, simply because people thought the name sucked. They just took the tired practice of naming a domed stadium the something-dome, and went with “Sky” because, “ha ha, the dome opens so you can see the sky. Get it? Ha ha.” Lame. IMO.

    I get why people don’t like the name “Rogers Centre,” but the negatives of that name don’t make “SkyDome” better than it was.

    • A Guy

      I agree. I wonder if the puckheads lost it as much as some Jays fans do over Skydome when MLG went away. In this case it’s not like they are defiling a place called Wrigley or Fenway.

    • Tools of Ignorance

      It certainly is cheesy. That said, “Blue Jays” wasn’t particularly popular when it was introduced, so perhaps cheesy becomes charming with enough time?

    • fred2

      I mean, it makes sense to name a building after it’s obvious features … sky and dome are pretty much it, unless you want to call it ‘ConcreteMausoleumDome’.

      But yeah, I agree it’s kind of got an 80s gimmicky feel, but the dome is an 80s gimmicky place, and the Jays are a bit, cough, of an 80s gimmicky team. No harm in that. It’s history, innit. It’s where they’re from (yeah I know 1977, but, whatever).

      My main beef with Rogers Centre was that it was soooo blaaaannd. Rogers Dome, or Rogers anything else would have been fine, but ‘Centre’, barf.

  • dolsh

    I don’t believe for a second that Rogers would funnel any funds from selling naming rights into the Blue Jays. It’ll be on a different balance sheet, and they’ll invest it back in their primary business.

  • misanthropic sports fan

    Yo, I commented that exact thing in the other (original) article, TD SkyDome. Either my idea saturated your brain (consciously or unconsciously) or we thought the exact same thing.