The Toronto Blue Jays need to scramble to find a home before the start of the 2020 season.
After months of testy negotiations, the 2020 MLB season is less than a week away. This 60-game campaign makes it possible for every team to potentially clinch a postseason berth (except the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins, of course). One AL East team is already at a disadvantage.
According to Rob Gillies of the Associated Press, the Toronto Blue Jays were denied permission to play home games at the Rogers Centre this season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high,” said Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, via APNews.com.
“Based on the best available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
Blue Jays destined for Buffalo?
Playing baseball in Canada has always seemed like an impossible feat. In order to have Blue Jays games in Toronto, MLB had to receive an exemption from the Canadian government to cross the border for non-essential reasons. Without the exemption, players would have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The NHL is having the 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs taking place in Toronto and Edmonton for one reason: all players and coaching staff will enter a bubble in each respective city. That’s why it received approval from the Canadian government.
Where do the Blue Jays end up playing their home games now? Their spring training facility Dunedin, Fla. was an option months ago, but with the significant spikes in new COVID-19 cases in the state, that’s definitely not an option. The logical destination would be in Buffalo at Sahlen Field, the home of the Blue Jays’ Triple-A team, the Bison.
Luckily for the Jays, they have some time to pick a new home away from home. They start the season down in Tampa Bay to play the Rays, but are scheduled to host the World Series Champion Washington Nationals on July 27.