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Let’s play ball: An early look inside Rogers Centre ahead of anticipated Blue Jays return – 680 News

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OK, Blue Jays. Let’s play ball.

After well over a year (670 days, to be exact) without baseball – and sports in general – the boys of summer will play in front of fans on Friday night for the first time since September 2019.

It’s been nearly 22 months since avid supporters have been able to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – amid a breakout season – tear the cover of a fastball down the middle at Rogers Centre.

Unless you could catch a game in Dunedin, Fla. or Buffalo, N.Y. to see them, fans haven’t witnessed lefty ace Hyun-Jin Ryu or big free-agent signing George Springer live in a Blue Jays uniform at all.

That’s about to change.

After being approved by the federal government to play home games in Toronto again, 15,000 fans will be allowed into the Rogers Centre starting Friday when the team begins a three-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals.

To say a lot has changed would be an understatement as there will be several public health measures and restrictions in place and moving forward.

680 NEWS was granted an early inside look at the Rogers Centre to see how staff plan to welcome back fans.

Entry to the ballpark:

Blue Jays personnel say it’s all about making fans feel at home and comfortable. Strict mobile ticketing for contact tracing purposes will be applied. Here are some more examples.

  • Symptom screening check
  • Masks must be worn at all times while seated (unless while eating or drinking) and while exploring the concourse.
  • Employees will hand out masks at gates upon entry
  • Physical distances enforced
  • Enhanced cleaning before, during and after games


Per the latest provincial reopening guidelines, 15,000 fans will be the max capacity for now. In contrast, the Rogers Centre can hold upwards of 45,000 fans during ordinary circumstances. Free t-shirts will be given to fans with the date and “Home” written on the front.

There are two types of bowl seating options available for fans: standard or physically distanced. Standard physical distancing measures will also apply.

Bathrooms: 


Officials say bathrooms will be heavily sanitized before and after games. There will be designated entry and exit points designed so attendees can move quickly to avoid crowding. There will also be a max capacity for people using these facilities.

Concessions, water access, and Jays Shop

As much as you may have missed the Blue Jays, we know you have been secretly craving one of those footlong hot dogs. An ice-cold beer? Yeah, we get it.

The Rogers Centre will be completely cashless, meaning it’s debit or credit for you. Health and safety protocols will be enforced at all times, with food cooked fresh and wrapped individually as a result. The concession stands menus have been modified with pre-packaged items to avoid crowding and reduce touch points.

There will be touchless water dispensers scattered across the concourse for easy access.


Eager to buy Blue Jays merchandise to show off your fandom? A Springer jersey? A Vladdy t-shirt? We don’t blame you.

Similarly, the Jays Shop will be completely cashless (debit, credit, gift cards) and operate under regular hours. The store has been closed since November due to the pandemic.

Staff say the store is fully stocked, and there will be a max capacity of 100 people allowed inside. Security will stand outside to count.

Seating and tickets: 

It bears repeating: A mask must be worn at all times, even while seated unless eating or drinking. Fans must remain seated when the game is in action.

As mentioned, there are two types of bowl seating options available for fans: standard or physically distanced. Tickets in the “100L and 200L” infield and TD Clubhouse are standard seating, while those in the 100L and 200L outfield and bases are physically distanced pods of up to four seats.


TD Executive Suites are operating at limited capacity with a minimum of six tickets.

The WestJet Flight Deck will be open for standing room as usual. Although, “pods” of up to six people will be outlined for those wishing to watch part of the game in the outfield, socially distanced.

The team also announced it would host 250 frontline workers in a complimentary seating section for each of the 10 games.

Season ticket holders for 2021 and 2022 gained access to tickets earlier last week.

Tickets for games from Friday to August 8 went on sale to the general public on July 22. Tickets for future games will be announced later to ensure the latest health and safety protocols are in place.

General gameday updates/retractable roof: 

All in all, personnel say their goal is to deliver the ultimate fan experience. President Mark Shapiro said they’re hoping to keep the roof open as often as possible to encourage proper airflow.


Interestingly, officials say that the roof could stay open even with inclement weather. With extreme weather and the roof being fully closed, stadium doors will remain open. A pre-game ceremony will be held on Friday, similar to opening day, and “Home Plate Lady” will deliver the first pitch.

Officials are encouraging fans to arrive at the park no later than 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. As for in-stadium upgrades, personnel say a new field was installed with an improved turf system. An extra pad was placed under the two-tone turf. They also expanded the size of dugouts to create more space.

Rogers is the parent company of 680 NEWS.


With files from 680 NEWS Digital Lead Andrew Osmond

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Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com

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Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports

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Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.

The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.

It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.

The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.

“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.

“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”

“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”

WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:

Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver

2 years ago

Duration 1:42

The Swedish superstars were honoured on Wednesday in an hour-long pregame ceremony.

Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”

“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.

“Couldn’t be more honoured.”

Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).

The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.

His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).

Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.

“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.

“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”

The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.

The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.

Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders

Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.

His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.

When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.

The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).

Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.

“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.

“Never took a day off.”

A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.

The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.

“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”

Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons

Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.

The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.

“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.

Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.

“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.

“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”

Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.

She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.

Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.

Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.

Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.

He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.

“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.

“I am so proud.”

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Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.

The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.

On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.

For now, that still means a member of the Nets.

The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.

Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.

He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.

The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.

Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.

“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”

Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.

And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.

But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.

Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.

A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.

“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”

NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.

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