Jake Walton, Manager of Ballpark Setup & Marketing Activations
How long have you worked for the Jays organization?
This is my 7th season. I started as an intern in 2016 and went on to be promoted to co-ordinator and then manager.
What drew you to want to work here?
Growing up, I was obsessed with sports. Being in an arena was very exciting for me since I was a kid, and I’ve wanted to be involved with that experience since then. My hope is that in my role I can affect the kids that come here and have them want to be a part of that experience and create those memories in the same way.
What is it like being in this environment and this kind of team? What keeps you coming back?
No day is the same, we’re faced with new challenges and unique opportunities all the time. We have early days, late nights. We have the ability to be creative with everything we do and providing the fan experience everyone sees is really exciting. You get excited about the atmosphere in the building, and we thrive off of those moments our fans have. We cheer for the team’s success along with the fans and the plan is to do anything we can to help with that.
Favourite/most fulfilling part of your job?
Getting to put myself in the shoes of a fan leaving happier than they came. People love the escape, especially after the last couple years with the pandemic, and getting to see fans be excited and happy and live a stress free life for a few hours means a lot.
Favourite Jays moment?
We bring it out maybe twice a year but when we got to use the Canada Day flag last season. When the Jays came back to city last July and we were able to use the flag and have the fans back as well, we all had that feeling like things were getting back to normal. It felt like a prize for grinding through those unpredictable years and having everyone coming together and singing O Canada, it really gave us that feeling like “we’re finally home”.
Fun fact about your job that people wouldn’t know?
Some fun facts about that giant Canadian flag. It comes in 6 pieces and has and has to be zipped/buckled together. It takes about 2.5 hours and over 100 employees to build it. The pieces are stored in shipping containers and it takes over the lower seating bowl to put it together. When it’s ready to be used during the game, it requires 250 military personally to carry it. It’s a really cool bonding experience for all of the part-time and full-time staff to come together to build.
What’s the funnest activation you’ve played a part in while working with the Jays? Anything specific you’d like to do in the future?
Our Piña Power Day for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was really fun. We had one of those arcade punching bag units and we rewrapped it with a pineapple design. People would walk up and punch the bag designed to look like a pineapple and fans could see their “piña power”. One of my favourite giveaways was a Buck Martínez “GET UP” alarm clock that would shout his home-run call when it went off. Pretty soon we’ll be starting our Pride activations, it’s one of the most enjoyable amongst staff. People are always just genuinely happy to be a part of it and embody the values that Pride is known for.
As for future activations, I’d love to set up batting cages/tunnels and have more baseball experiences inside the stadium. Being able to create a baseball environment here outside of the game can be so important to foster the interest of baseball, and having more related things that help grow the game is key to that.