TORONTO – “The best is yet to come” — Ted Rogers would say.
The words are emblazoned on the bottom of a 12-foot bronze statue of the founder of Rogers Communications Inc. that was unveiled at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday.
Rogers’ widow Loretta Rogers — now a company director at Rogers — said Rogers would be surprised and very flattered that he is immortalized in bronze.
She said the idea for the statue first came from Rogers Media president Keith Pelley a year ago. Now, the statue is standing outside Rogers Centre, facing Bremner Boulevard near Gates 5 and 6.
“He was very passionate about everything he did,” she said during the unveiling.
“He loved a good joke, a good party and I’m sure he’s looking down on this event today.”
She says the statue went through a few design changes.
“At one point, there was a hand in the pocket. We said ‘that wasn’t Ted, put files under the arm because that was.’”
Family, friends and former colleagues attended the 5:30 p.m. unveiling, including Rogers’ children, Lisa, Edward, Melinda and Martha.
Jays players and executives — including Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, City Gaston, Jose Bautista and Mark Buehrle — joined his family for the unveiling.
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston says the location of the statue is fitting because the team might not be here if not for Rogers.
“Ted Rogers was a proud Canadian that happened to live in Toronto,” he said.
“The fact that he had the wherewithal to be able to buy the team — it could seem where it might be good for his company but he knew it would be good for the city. Quite frankly, we should all be indebted for what he did.”
John Tory, a longtime friend of Rogers, said he would have loved this.
“He would’ve been really happy. Not because of the recognition — he was not a guy who sought recognition,” Tory said.
“He would’ve been happy though that he could be here with a smiling face greeting all these fans coming to have a good time and that he was kind of making the city a better place to live.”
John Hinnen, Rogers’ vice-president of news, has worked for the company for nearly 40 years. He says Rogers’ reaction to the statue would have been interesting.
“I think he’d be embarrassed a little bit because he was a very quiet, down-to-earth kind of individual but on the other hand, he’s very proud as well. He should be very proud that people think of him and recognize his efforts and recognize the things that he did.”
Rogers passed away at the age of 75 on Dec. 2, 2008, but not before acquiring the iconic downtown Toronto landmark formerly known as the SkyDome.
During his tenure as head of Rogers Communications, Rogers amassed a media and sports empire, including the Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Centre, City, Omni, 680News, Maclean’s and Chatelaine.
The statute is approximately 800 pounds and four-metres tall, including the base. It was created by German-Canadian sculptor Siegfried “Siggy” Puchta, 80, a longtime friend of Rogers.
The city gave its own tribute to Ted Rogers a year after his death, renaming a stretch of Jarvis Street between Bloor and Charles streets Ted Rogers Way.
Rogers Communications is the parent company of 680News.
— With files from CityNews.ca