The Toronto Blue Jays have finally chosen a home for the 2020 season. After the Canadian government told the team that they could not play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic, they looked at many options. They considered sharing PNC Park with the Pirates and sharing Camden Yards with the Orioles, respectively. They even contemplated playing in their spring training park in Dunedin, Florida. But in the end, they officially picked Sahlen Field, their Triple-A affiliate ballpark in Buffalo, New York, as their site.
Blue Jays President Statement
Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro gave this statement regarding the move: “We are extremely grateful to have a home in Buffalo this season, thanks to the openness, creativity, and partnership of the Buffalo Bisons, Major League Baseball, and Blue Jays staff, who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for games at Sahlen Field. This process has no doubt tested our team’s resilience, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses — we are determined to take the field on Opening Day today, and for the coming months, with the same intensity and competitiveness that our fans expect.”
With this decision, there will be three Major League clubs in New York State for the first time since 1957. Back then, the state was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, and New York Giants.
The Jays will play their first home game on July 31 against the Phillies or August 11 versus the Marlins. Although their first home series starts July 29 against the Nationals, they will be playing in Washington. This is due to the need to fix some infrastructure in Sahlen Field. They will have to expand locker rooms to accommodate social distancing guidelines, and the lights will need to be upgraded. It is unclear how long the renovations will take.
Playing in a new home ballpark with empty seats should prove interesting for the Blue Jays.