Blue Jays explored VR technology in roof renovations

The newest set of Rogers Center renovations could involve major changes to its roof.

First constructed in 1989 as one of the world’s first retractable roofs on a major sports stadium, the former SkyDome is now the seventh-oldest ballpark in the major leagues.

Reports came out this past winter that Toronto is looking to put between $200 million and $250 million into upgrades to the stadium, but with few details available to this point about exactly what the renovation entailed. The new center field scoreboard is set to debut this season, though the largest changes appear to be underway.

Flagged on Twitter by user @BlueMetropolis, engineering firm Walter P. Moore underwent a VR study encompassing the light overlay across the stadium through a translucent roof.

β€œA renovation project for the roofing on Rogers Center provides an opportunity to leverage VR to effectively communicate to the client the impact of distinct design options involving ETFE roofing material,” Walter P Moore’s study reads. β€œUsing the date, time of day, and GPS coordinates, we created a dynamic lighting tool that accurately positioned the sun relative to the structure and time of day. This feature enabled the client, owner, and design team to assess the lighting and shadow characteristics of different roofing panel design configurations.”

In other words, the firm created a program testing how the light would shine onto the field and throughout the stadium during the game should a roof with Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) would work.

ETFE roofs are in place in many notable stadiums across the world, including Vancouver’s BC Place, Munich’s Allianz Arena, Minneapolis’ US Bank Stadium, Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, and Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, to name a few.

Walter P. Moore had previously worked on the Rogers Center projects, including improvements to the roof mechanization systems of the retractable roof that cut the time to open it in half, from 40-45 minutes to just 20.

Of course, a major renovation like a change in the roof material would need to take place in the offseason, so there’s no timeline yet on when the Jays could make the switch to ETFE from the current PVC membrane.

Renovations complete or not, the Blue Jays season kicks off this Friday, April 8, when they host the Texas Rangers at the Rogers Center.

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