The Toronto Argonauts will be playing yet another "home" game on the road, but this time, there's no satisfying explanation why, as the Rogers Centre's staff appear to have changed their field-conversion policy. The Argos' previous games that were moved thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays' postseason run had clear potential or definite conflicts with the Jays, but Friday, Oct. 23's game against the Montreal Alouettes (which has now been moved to Hamilton) does not. The Blue Jays will host Game Four of the American League Championship Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, but then couldn't possibly play at home again until Tuesday, Oct. 27 (Game 1 of the World Series). That would leave the Rogers Centre crew three full days and parts of two others (part of Friday after the game, full days Saturday, Sunday and Monday, plus most of Tuesday) to get the field ready for baseball. However, Argonauts' CEO Chris Rudge said in a statement Friday that Rogers Centre management informed him that was insufficient:
“We have reviewed the ALCS championship schedule and, despite nearly five days between potential baseball home dates, we have been informed by Rogers Centre officials that there is insufficient time to convert the stadium from baseball to football, and then back again, to accommodate our game on the 23rd.
Based on precedent, this appears to be rubbish. The Argos' first home game this year was Saturday, Aug. 8, two days after the Jays hosted Minnesota on Aug. 6, and the Jays hosted Oakland Tuesday, Aug. 11, one less day after the Argos' game than what we'd see this time. In 2013, the Argos hosted Hamilton on Friday, June 28, and the Jays hosted the Tigers on Monday, July 1, one less day than this situation. The Argos hosted Calgary on Friday, Aug. 23 that year, followed by a Jays' home game against the Yankees on Monday, Aug. 26, again one less day than we'd see here. There may well be some additional challenges in preparing for the World Series compared to a regular home game, but it's hard to imagine those consuming an entire extra day. At the very least, Rogers (which owns both the Jays and the Rogers Centre) owes Argos' fans an explanation of why their field conversion would require so much more time now.
It should be noted that Rogers' earlier moves of the Argos were more defensible. The Oct. 6 game against Ottawa (which was moved to Ottawa) would have been the night the Blue Jays hosted a wild-card game if they'd needed to (which wasn't known when it was moved), and it was also only two days before the first divisional series game the Blue Jays did wind up hosting, while Saturday's game (which has been moved to Hamilton) could have directly overlapped with the first American League championship series game (which Toronto would have been hosting if Houston had beat Kansas City) and is just two days before the Jays will host the Royals. Those are consistent with the field turnover times we've seen for the Rogers Centre (it's interesting to note, however, that other stadiums like B.C. Place have managed to convert from football to other sports in less than 24 hours). If it does in fact take from Saturday to Tuesday or Friday to Monday to convert Rogers Centre from football to baseball, the earlier moves seem valid. This one, however, does not, and Rogers should explain why they're booting the Argos out to gain more time than they've previously needed for a field conversion. Without an explanation, they're only providing ammunition to those who criticize their various involvements in projects that hurt the CFL.
Update: The Rogers Centre's own website says it only takes around 30 hours to convert the field.
How long does it take to put the field in place or take it away?
Typically, it takes up to 30 hours to convert the stadium from a baseball diamond into a football field. It takes 20 hours to remove the diamond to go to the concrete floor. It takes 16 hours to remove the football field to go to concrete.
Alexis Brudnicki notes that this might be about a Jays' desire to practice at home Thursday, which could make some sense. Any sort of daytime practice would still leave over 24 hours before the Argos start at 7 p.m. Friday, though, so there might be enough time to convert the field even with that.