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Lions QB Stafford on COVID-19/Reserve list – TSN

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford missed practice Wednesday and has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced. 

This means either Stafford tested positive for COVID-19, or was in close contact with someone who tested positive. Stafford now joins linebacker Jarrad Davis, who was placed on the list Tuesday.

The two cases, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, are not related.

This is Stafford’s second stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Stafford had a false positive test in August, part of the reason the NFL changed its protocols on testing at the time. Stafford’s wife, Kelly, as well as the organization both offered strong statements at the time about the false positive.

The Lions have now had two players placed on the list in as many days, after not having a player on the list since the beginning of training camp in August, when Detroit had at least seven players on the list, including receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Prior to practice Wednesday, Lions coach Matt Patricia said “nobody would not be able to practice because of JD.”

Detroit did not close its Allen Park, Michigan, facility on Wednesday, and Patricia said the team has been in “constant contact with the NFL.”

“There’s no need for us to shut down the facility,” Patricia said. “There’s no need for any of that, as far as our situation. I can’t speak to the future. I think that right now, everybody across the country, especially in Michigan right now, and the cases going up, really no one knows what the next day is going to look like.

“We just have to do the best we can to stay safe today.”

With Stafford not at practice, the Lions used backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and David Blough

Stafford, 32, has completed 61.4% of his passes this season for 1,916 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Lions also had four starters — Golladay (hip), offensive tackles Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) and Taylor Decker (back) and safety Tracy Walker (foot) — not practice Wednesday, as well as returner Jamal Agnew (ribs). Four other starters — guard Joe Dahl (back), Hockenson (toe), linebacker Christian Jones (knee), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (wrist) — were limited. Defensive end Trey Flowers was placed on injured reserve Monday.

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Blue Jays off-season FAQ: Rogers Centre replacement far from a done deal – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays are turning out to be a team of intrigue this off-season for more than just what they’re trying to accomplish with their roster.

As they continue to be connected to every available player of consequence – “They are being very flirty,” is how one agent put it – a story by the Globe and Mail’s Andrew Willis on Friday revealed team owner Rogers Communications Inc. is looking to build a new stadium, rather than renovate the 31-year-old Rogers Centre, as part of a wider property redevelopment.

The part about creating a sports-anchored real-estate project – a business model for team owners that’s becoming the industry’s new regional sports network – is not brand new. Discussions on that front have been ongoing for the past few years.

What is intriguing about Willis’ piece is that the thinking within Rogers (which also owns this website) and project partner Brookfield Asset Management Inc. seems to have settled around tearing down the dome to build a new stadium, rather than trying to refurbish it.

The possibility immediately sparked excitement, but a statement from Rogers sought to tamp expectations: “Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium but through this year our primary focus has been keeping our customers connected and employees safe, so there is no update on the Rogers Centre to share at this time.”

So, what’s up with all that? Oh, and like George Springer, D.J. LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, Michael Brantley, Francisco Lindor and all that fun stuff? Good time for a wide-ranging Blue Jays FAQ:

So, the Blue Jays are getting a new stadium then?

Definitely Maybe is the name of an old Oasis album and also an apt description of the situation.

Two of the people I spoke with today insisted that there was nothing new here, that this file has been largely dormant since last fall. A check of the City of Toronto’s lobbyist registry supports that, as there’s been no documented meeting since Oct. 17, 2019 when a staff member for Councillor Joe Cressy, whose ward includes the dome site, spoke with Jodi Parps, Rogers’ manager of government relations, provincial and municipal. That followed a bigger meeting July 10, 2019 that included Cressy, two staff members, Edward Rogers, the RCI chairman, Tony Staffieri, RCI’s chief financial officer, Parps, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro and Ben Colabrese, the club’s executive vice-president, finance.

The discussions centred around the dome’s future, the surrounding area and the city’s relevant leaseholds. COVID-19 arrested the progress, but that doesn’t mean the entire project stopped. Modelling for the project likely continued between Rogers and Brookfield during that time, and they likely settled on a vision for the site, floated in broad strokes in the piece by the well-connected Willis.

Beyond what he outlined, the project is expected to entail some building out of the Rail Deck Park idea that’s circulated for years. That would create more greenspace that can be used year-round and will be an important piece of the entire plan.

Makes sense. It’s done then?

Far from. All three levels of government have a piece of this, each will need to be satisfied, and it’s complicated.

While Rogers owns the stadium, the land beneath it belongs to Canada Lands Company, a crown corporation which issued a 99-year lease that runs through 2088 and is zoned for stadium usage only. That’s a primary reason why the building sold for only $25 million in 2004 – how many companies in the city need a domed stadium? Right, one.

A plan of the nature being discussed would require substantial rezoning. In the process of examining a renovation, the sports-anchored development trend began taking hold, and a series of interests began to align, turning it into a much bigger project. In a statement Friday, Cressy said he’s ready to re-engage, underlining the city’s interests in the venture:

Other partners would likely be needed to pull everything off, too, especially the recreational and public-space components. Bottom line, a lot of elements still need to fall into place, so don’t expect shovels in the ground any time soon.

Cool, cool, cool. But what would happen to the Blue Jays if they demolished the Rogers Centre?

Before you start mapping out the drive to Buffalo or prepping your liver for a couple of seasons in Montreal, remember what the St. Louis Cardinals did when they went from old Busch Stadium to new Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006. The Cardinals broke ground on the new place on Jan. 17, 2004 and spent the next two years building the guts of the new park before razing the old one to finish things up. This photo essay from the St. Louis Post Dispatch nicely illustrates the process of what turned out to be a seamless transition.

The Rogers Centre footprint is tighter, but there’s some land to the south of the building, as well as some on the west side, and a bit less on the east that could be used in a similar process. That’s a possibility that has been raised, according to multiple sources, with the aim of ensuring the Blue Jays aren’t left homeless, even if briefly.

Phew, that’s a lot to digest. Exciting as all that is, what’s happening with getting this team more players?

Work continues on that front, and boy is what I’m hearing interesting. To build on the analogy made by the agent who said the Blue Jays are being flirty, it sounds like they’re legitimately trying to put some rings on it, too. D.J. LeMahieu was described to me as “the perfect fit” and that he didn’t immediately re-sign with the New York Yankees suggests he’s seriously considering his options in more than a cursory way. The New York Mets, under new owner Steve Cohen, are probably gumming things up there after making it clear they’re in it to win it on multiple fronts. While the Blue Jays may be willing to set the market, agents will probably want to wait for the Mets to drop the gauntlet.

That impacts the market for another Blue Jays target in George Springer, with whom they’ve progressed beyond just talking. Same thing with Michael Brantley, but while his left-handed bat and offensive profile are perfect for the batting order, how he fits defensively is less seamless. Since he’s limited to left field and DH, that means pushing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. out of a spot in which he just started settling in. The Blue Jays don’t mind creating redundancies – good luck keeping everyone happy, Charlie Montoyo! – but that also creates surplus to trade.

Speaking of surplus, what’s going on at catcher and the report on J.T. Realmuto? Don’t they have a bazillion catchers already?

Craig Mish, who does a fine job covering the Miami Marlins, dropped this tidbit earlier in the week:

Intriguing, and not entirely surprising, as the Blue Jays also checked in on Yasmani Grandal last winter, even if they do have enviable depth behind the plate (bazillion might be a bit hyperbolic). Certainly they hope that one of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno, Riley Adams and Reese McGuire eventually becomes an impact backstop like Realmuto. But if they want to advance their program, well, Realmuto is an all-star right now.

People are being really quiet and guarded around this chatter, which lends credence to Mish’s tweet. Such a move would be reminiscent of the Blue Jays signing Russell Martin to an $82-million, five-year deal ahead of the 2015 season to push the team forward. Adding a sixth catcher to the 40-man now would definitely be suboptimal, but again, surplus creates opportunities to trade and they could use some of their young catching to get pitching help.

What about pitching? Are they done at re-signing Robbie Ray?

No. The Blue Jays need someone who can win a playoff game for the rotation if they’re going to be for real.

Trevor Bauer is the obvious big ticket, but right now they seem more fixated on position players than pitchers. Not to get repetitive, but my sense is they’d like to nail down their lineup adds, figure out what’s staying, and then trade to get pitching help. They must feel like some teams will need to off-load arms eventually (Texas with Lance Lynn, or Cincinnati with Sonny Gray, perhaps).

The Asian market is another opportunity here, with right-handers Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants and Kohei Arihara of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to be posted. The signing of Shun Yamaguchi last off-season was done partly to build a bridge into the Japanese market, with an eye towards the class of players available this winter. Sugano and Arihara are both intriguing, but the real prize could be Kodai Senga of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, if he’s posted.

Lastly, what about Francisco Lindor?

I’ve had several people tell me that the Blue Jays really want him. Well, duh. Who wouldn’t? As perfect as LeMahieu is for them, Lindor is even more perfect, even if he pushes Bo Bichette off of short. This one is complicated, though, both because of the acquisition cost in trade, but also with his pending free agency. The ongoing lack of clarity about what it would take to re-sign him is a big yellow light here and my sense is the Blue Jays won’t meet Cleveland’s price without knowing if they can extend him.

Maybe that forces the acquisition cost for Lindor down, but Cleveland could also wait for the impact free agents to sign and then work with any teams left on the sidelines.

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The Blue Jays might get a brand new ballpark to replace the Rogers Centre down the road. Fans can dream a little – Toronto Star

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Reports of a plan to tear down the Rogers Centre have Blue Jays fans dreaming of a more intimate, scenic, well-stocked ballpark in its place.

But the owners of the 31-year-old stadium say an overhaul of any kind will have to wait.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were exploring options for the stadium but through this year our primary focus has been keeping our customers connected and keeping our employees safe, so there is no update on the Rogers Centre to share at this time,” Rogers spokesperson Andrew Garas said Friday.

The statement came after the Globe and Mail reported Rogers and real estate giant Brookfield Asset Management Inc. were looking to knock down the stadium as part of a larger development project.

Citing unnamed sources, the Globe reported that two companies would build a new stadium half the size on the southern part of the current site and use the remaining land for residential towers, office buildings, stores and public space. Building a new stadium on the lakefront if the initial plan falls through is also an option, the report said. Brookfield declined to comment on the matter.

Rogers owns the stadium but not the land it sits on, which is leased from the Canada Lands Company through 2088 and zoned for stadium use only, Sportsnet reported in 2018.

The City of Toronto said a formal planning application has not been submitted to redevelop the Rogers Centre, while a spokesperson for Mayor John Tory said neither he nor his office staff are involved in any discussions on the subject. Tory told city council and staff last year that he would not take part in any talks about the stadium’s future because he remains on the Rogers family trust after a previous role as a chief executive with the company.

Lobbying records show the most recent registered activity regarding the Rogers Centre came in the form of a meeting with councillor Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York where the stadium is located, in July 2019 and an October 2019 meeting with Cressy’s staff.

Cressy told the Star last August that he accepted an invitation in July to meet with officials from the Blue Jays, Rogers and Brookfield to chat “in broad terms” about their plans for the domed ballpark.

At the time, Cressy said having a redeveloped stadium on the existing lands would be an important anchor for downtown and the city as a whole, and that any refurbishment must be done with private money. The group Cressy met with didn’t have a proposal to share at the time, he said.

Cressy has not heard anything further since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If there is any ambition for a broader land revitalization, we need to work to together to ensure it adheres to good planning principles and a good public process,” he said in a statement Friday.

If and when Rogers, Brookfield and the Jays are ready to restart the discussions, Cressy said, he will ensure there is a “clear understanding that public dollars are not to be used to pay for a revitalized stadium.”

Rogers said Friday that any redevelopment project would be funded privately.

Downtown Toronto city councillor Mike Layton said he does not know details of the reported plan, but agreed that no more public money should go into the site or a new stadium.

“We’ve paid enough,” Layton (Ward 11 University-Rosedale) said in an interview Friday.

Then-Metro Council and the Ontario government were originally on the hook for a combined $60 million of the initial $225-million price tag, but ended up paying a total of $350 million after the stadium’s cost ballooned to almost $600 million.

The stadium is not in his ward, but Layton sits on the Toronto-East York community council likely to receive any redevelopment proposal before it goes to full city council.

“We paid a lot of money to build that (SkyDome) and then it was sold for $25 million. I don’t know the proposal, so I wouldn’t endeavour to give a hard ‘No’ now on whatever they want to do with the site,” he said, “but I hope we don’t see any more tax dollars going for a stadium that should be going for transit, affordable housing and parks for residents — not just a handful of major leaguers.”

Layton, who has led council’s response to climate change, also questioned any plan to demolish the current stadium, saying a tenet of carbon reduction is reusing existing infrastructure rather destroying, dumping and building anew.

Longtime sports industry executive Richard Peddie, president of the Rogers Centre between 1989 and 1994, said the idea of building a new stadium on the existing parcel of land simply isn’t practical.

“There’s no way you could do it on the same site, because it would mean the team needing to play somewhere else for three or four years. You’d need to keep this open while you built somewhere else,” said Peddie. “… There’s got to be natural grass. It should be an open air stadium which you can cover up, rather than a domed stadium where you can roll the roof back. It should be smaller. And wearing my progressive hat, there shouldn’t be money from any level of government going towards this.”

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The Rogers Centre landed at No. 27 out of 30 in Ballpark Digest’s ranking of MLB stadiums this past July. Changes to the stadium no longer falls under Jays president Mark Shapiro’s purview, with Rogers now leading the file, but he told the Star in February, before the pandemic hit, that there may be more upgrades to announce in 2021.

“A lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of focus from people — both within our ownership and even a couple of people within our building — continue to be spent exploring the next steps for a much bigger plan,” he said. “It is incredibly complex, and I think that’ll be clear once it’s announced, and so that’s why it’s taken so long.”

With files from Gregor Chisholm, Tess Kalinowski, Josh Rubin and The Canadian Press

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Stadium reno or replacement logical next step in Blue Jays' evolution as franchise – TSN

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TORONTO — When Mark Shapiro talks of building a sustainable winner, most of us think about the team on the field and a roster filled with in-their-prime players competing for AL East titles on a year-in, year-out basis.

But there’s much more to the Shapiro regime’s philosophy of sustainability, and the key project all along for the 53-year-old executive has been the venue his Blue Jays call home.

While Shapiro’s Blue Jays legacy will ultimately have a lot to do with how the baseball team performs on the field, he could have a hand in changing the Toronto skyline if the club’s vision for a new — or immensely improved — stadium comes to fruition.

A Rogers Centre renovation project has been talked about on and off since Shapiro arrived in 2015.

There have been batting-cage whispers ranging from large-scale renovations — think blowing up half the building and redoing most of it — to brand new lakefront plots of land to extensive cosmetic and fan-friendly changes to the existing bones of what was formerly known as SkyDome.

Publicly, Shapiro has hinted at both when asked and he has not been shy about the need for stadium upgrades, despite declining to go into specifics of what those could ultimately look like.

After a quiet period of more than a year as the team focused on renovating its Dunedin complex and other smaller-scale restructuring, a Globe and Mail report Friday says a plan in conjunction with Brookfield Asset Management Inc. to demolish Rogers Centre as part of a privately funded multibillion-dollar redevelopment has been talked about.

According to the Globe’s Andrew Willis, citing anonymous sources, the plan would see a stadium project sit at the south end of the current site, with residential towers, office buildings, stores and public space to the north.

If plans fall through, a contingency includes building a new stadium on a different plot of lakefront land.

The project to demolish Rogers Centre and build a new stadium would have a five-to-eight-year timeline, according to the Globe, and still needs “numerous” government approvals to move forward.

In other words, it’s still in the idea stage and there may be more whispers to come as public discussion begins and the Jays continue to work through their options.

There’s no questioning where Shapiro’s work is focused these days, however, as the Jays, despite the prime downtown location, have one of the worst stadium situations in Major League Baseball at 31-year-old Rogers Centre.

On the field, the Jays are in good shape, both talent-wise and in terms of the payroll, with all of the club’s bad contracts — even Troy Tulowitzki — off the books.

The club also just completed a multi-million dollar renovation to its Dunedin player development facility and spring training stadium, leaving the ballpark at home in Toronto as the next major item on Shapiro’s checklist.

Even if the timeline of when the Jays are supposed to be a contender (pretty much now) and when a new stadium would be ready (at least a half-decade from now) doesn’t necessarily match up, it’s the clear next step in the franchise’s evolution.

Potentially in the city’s skyline, too.

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