They’re still the Toronto Blue Jays–technically. Their home ballpark is still Rogers Centre–technically. However, for the 2020 MLB Season, they’ll have to find an alternative ballpark in another city. Check that: in another country.
The Blue Jays were denied by the Canadian Government from playing in their usual home for the upcoming season, with COVID-19 concerns being the reason. The Blue Jays were able to conduct Summer Camp (spring training 2.0) in Toronto. However, they couldn’t get further permission for the regular season.
So…Where are They Playing?
That’s the $64,000 question, folks. With opening day a few days away, no one knows. They start on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Pete, so that at least buys them a little more time to figure it out.
They have a second home in Dunedin, Fla. However, with COVID-19 cases on the rise in the Sunshine State, it is not the preferred option. So, second home is pretty much out too unless they have no choice.
Buffalo appeared to be the Blue Jays target home site. The Buffalo Bisons are the Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, and Buffalo is less than 100 miles from Toronto. But like Dunedin, it is a worst-case scenario. The players feel playing in a major-league ballpark is the best option for them. Jeff Passan said the players want some form of normalcy during an abnormal time.
Maybe that, by default, rules out Buffalo and Dunedin.
Preventing a Homeless Team
Regardless, MLB doesn’t want to get stuck with a Cleveland Spiders situation where a team is always on the road. Barnstorming teams seem a bit archaic nowadays, don’t they?
Not being able to play in their own major-league park is what put in them in this predicament. So, what’s the major-league alternative?
The Jays are looking into playing home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. While it’s not the closest major-league city–Detroit and Cleveland are both slightly closer–it’s directly south of Toronto. There are scheduling issues if Toronto wants to play there, however.
#BlueJays and #Pirates have conflicts on July 29 (day of Jays "home" opener), Sept. 8-9 and Sept. 21-24. #Pirates GM Ben Cherington and AGM Steve Sanders came over from Jays during the off-season. https://t.co/8XVJXcESMQ
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 20, 2020
Perhaps, the Jays are forced to play early games that don’t impact the Pirates games. There could be games at 10 a.m. and then the Pirates play their games at 7 p.m. The possibility of bouncing around multiple ballparks during the year is considered a possibility as well.
The idea of moving around seems to defeat the purpose of social distancing and limiting travel. However, they may just not have that luxury the other 29 teams have.
The Blue Jays home opener is Wednesday, July 29, against the Washington Nationals. Where exactly? Maybe Buffalo. Could be in Pittsburgh. Perhaps, Dunedin. We’ll find out.