Team spends $21.24 million for SkyDome
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays agreed to buy SkyDome, the team's ballpark, for about $21.2 million.
The 50,000-seat stadium, which opened in 1989, cost about $375 million to construct and was mostly funded by taxpayers. The Blue Jays, who are owned by Rogers Communications, will acquire the ballpark from Sportsco International LP, a Chicago-based group of investors who bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in 1999 for about $74 million.
"We're getting it for a very fair price," said Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey, a former city politician who was instrumental in getting the building funded by taxpayers.
The sale, which was announced Monday, is expected to close in December. The team plans to replace the artificial turf with FieldTurf and install a new JumboTron scoreboard.
Godfrey said the Blue Jays are looking into selling naming rights to the building. The Blue Jays were the only team in the major leagues that did not either own or control its own facility.
"That was a major handicap," Godfrey said. "Now everything from parking and concessions to buying tickets to the building itself will all be in the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays."
But Godfrey says the purchase doesn't mean the team will increase its payroll next season. The Blue Jays are expected to lose slugger Carlos Delgado to free agency.
Godfrey spoke to Delgado's agent, David Sloane, last week, but said they haven't received a counteroffer.
"He said he'll get back to me," Godfrey said.
The team isn't expected to offer salary arbitration to Delgado, who earned $18.5 million last season, which means that if he doesn't agree to a deal with the Blue Jays by Dec. 7, he can't re-sign with Toronto until May 1.
SkyDome will lose one of its major tenants in 2006. The Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts plan to move from SkyDome, which has a retractable roof, to a new 25,000-seat outdoor stadium.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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