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Blue Jays' New Owner Has Changes in Works

Thursday, February 3, 2005; Page D08

The Toronto Blue Jays will have a higher payroll, a new ballpark name and a new artificial playing surface that's more like grass.

Team owner Rogers Communications renamed SkyDome the Rogers Centre yesterday, two days after the company completed the acquisition of the ballpark.

Jeromy Burnitz
Jeromy Burnitz
The Cubs will look to Jeromy Burnitz to replace Sammy Sosa's production. (Jack Dempsey - AP)

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Rogers said it will allocate $210 million for payroll over the next three years. The team's payroll is about $50 million. While General Manager J.P. Ricciardi will add to it this season, most of the money will be spent the following two years.

"We have the resources now to do some things that we'd like to do," Ricciardi said.

Ricciardi said they're not interested in any remaining free agents, but could add players through trades. Rogers said they couldn't allocate the money in the fall when more free agents were available because the sale of SkyDome hadn't closed.

The team started work on replacing the JumboTron with a new videoboard a month ago. Two smaller versions will be built into the outfield fence in the gaps in left-center and right-center. They will be covered with a plastic shield. In addition, FieldTurf will be installed.

Rogers is investing in the team just months after the Montreal Expos left Canada for Washington.

"We're the only team in Canada. Let's not have it fail," said Ted Rogers, the president of Rogers Communications.

CUBS: Chicago didn't waste any time finding a replacement for Sammy Sosa, agreeing to a one-year, $5 million contract with outfielder Jeromy Burnitz.

Burnitz led the Colorado Rockies with 37 home runs last season and was second with 110 RBI. Under terms of the deal, Burnitz will make $4.5 million this year. There is a mutual $7 million option for 2006 that includes a $500,000 buyout.

CARDINALS: General Manager Walt Jocketty agreed to a three-year contract, less than a month after Manager Tony La Russa also accepted a new deal that runs through 2007.

DODGERS: Los Angeles agreed to a contract with third baseman Norihiro Nakamura, 31, who played the past 12 years for Orix of Japan's Pacific League.

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