The Blue Jays have finally landed.
The team announced on Friday that it will play a majority of their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. The stadium is the home of Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate the Buffalo Bison.
“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,” team president and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a statement.
The Blue Jays were left scrambling after the Canadian government ruled last weekend that they could not play games in Toronto at Rogers Centre due to the coronavirus health concerns of frequent cross-border travel.
After Canada wouldn’t give the Blue Jays special treatment, the team originally sought to play in a major league park, but Pennsylvania officials shut down any hope the Blue Jays had of sharing PNC Park in Pittsburgh with the Pirates. The Blue Jays also had discussions about sharing Camden Yards in Baltimore with the Orioles.
The team also considered using their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., but the state is now one of the hottest of the COVID-19 hot spots in the country.
“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,” Shapiro added.
The Blue Jays open the pandemic shortened 60-game season Friday night in Tampa against the Rays. Their first scheduled “home” game is on Wednesday, July 29 against the World Series champion Nationals. But that series is likely to take place in D.C. as the AP reported that the ballpark in Buffalo needs to undergo “infrastructure modifications” to meet MLB playing standards and health and safety requirements.
The Blue Jays’ first time taking the field in Buffalo is likely to be either July 31 against the Phillies or Aug. 11 against the Marlins, per the AP.
New York senator Chuck Schumer, the democratic leader, was among those pushing for the Blue Jays to nest in Western New York.
“Since it is Opening Day, there is little time for continued deliberation — now is the time to act — and Buffalo is ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome Major League Baseball to Sahlen Field ...” Schumer wrote in a letter to MLB commish Rob Manfred.
Gov. Cuomo also welcomed with the Blue Jays with open arms.
“We have the protocols in place, it will be done safely,” Cuomo told reporters Friday ahead of the official announcement. “I’d rather it happen here. It’s good for Buffalo.”
Buffalo has been home to the Blue Jays’ top farm team since 2013.
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