After much searching and speculation, the Toronto Blue Jays will play their home games for the 2020 baseball season at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York; just across the river from their Canadian province of Ontario.
Sahlen Field is the home of the Tornoto Blue Jays AAA team the Buffalo Bisons.
The Ontario Provincial government denied the Blue Jays the ability to play their home games at home in the Rogers Centre in Toronto due to health concerns over teams having to constantly crossing the U.S./Canadian border which is currently closed.
Prior to making the decision to play in Buffalo, the Blue Jays had sought the right to play their home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but due to a recent rise inCovid-19 cases, Pennsylvania government officials denied the request.
The Blue Jays also briefly considered Camden Yard, the home of the Baltimore Orioles. Their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida was also on the list but Florida has been seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The Blue Jays open the 2020 season in Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays. Their first home game is scheduled for July 29 against the World Series winning Washington Nationals but due to upgrades needed at Sahlen Field in order to bring the field up to Major League standard, the Blue Jays will be playing the Nationals in Washington.
Depending on infrastructure upgrades, the Blue Jays may have their first home game on July 31 against the Philadelphia Phillies or August 11 against the Miami Marlins.
Among the upgrades to bring Sahlen Field up to Major League standards, the locker room must be expanded to accommodate social distancing and the on field lights must be replaced. The Blue jays will be paying for most if not all of the costs incurred in upgrading the ball park.
Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro spoke on coming events now that the home field has been made saying, “we’re trying to take a very good Minor League facility and bring it up as close as possible to a Major League facility within the confines of the physical infrastructure. That means we’re trying to think about the size of spaces, locker rooms, cages, training rooms and resources.”
Government officials from Buffalo City Mayor Byron Brown to Senator Chuck Schumer were backing the decision for the Blue Jays to play in western New York.
One the Blue Jays take the field for a game, it will be the first time since 1885 that a professional baseball game will be held on Buffalo.
The Blue Jays and visiting teams will be quarantined in tow hotels and have their meals catered by local restaurants.
feature photo credit: By Keith Allison – https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/33696080431, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58590271