The Toronto Blue Jays were set to become the Pittsburgh Blue Jays, at least for most of the 2020 regular season. Sources say that the Blue Jays were going to announce this week that they would use PNC Park as their home field for almost all home games scheduled to be played this season.
Unfortunately, just like the Canadian federal government, Pennsylvania officials denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Pittsburgh, citing the need to limit travelers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Blue Jays were denied a request from the Canadian federal government to play their games in Toronto, which led to the request to play in Pittsburgh.
All 29 other teams in MLB will be playing their home games at their home ballpark, although fans will not be in attendance. The Blue Jays reportedly reached out to at least five different teams in an effort to share a stadium.
Toronto is set to begin the season on the road in Tampa Bay, and are scheduled to host the Washington Nationals on July 29.
Aside from the conflict on July 29, the two schedules for the Blue Jays and Pirates didn’t provide many other conflicts throughout the season. If there was a conflict in schedules, the Blue Jays would have been forced to play on the road.
Pittsburgh Pirates president Travis Williams confirmed that his team was in talks with the Blue Jays on Monday, and was willing to help them out in any way possible. Major League Baseball gave Toronto permission to speak with other teams about sharing a ballpark as well.
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Canada Says No to MLB
The Blue Jays were hopeful of playing their home games in Toronto this season, but their official request was denied last week. The main reason was that the United States continues to see a surge in positive COVID-19 cases, while Canada seems to have things a bit more under control.
There is currently a 14-day quarantine required for all travel between the two countries, but the Blue Jays and MLB were hopeful that the ban could be lifted. Canada did not feel comfortable with all the travel between countries and said no to the Blue Jays in 2020.
The National Hockey League was granted permission to resume its 2019-20 season in Canada, but their situation is much different. The NHL chose both Toronto and Edmonton as “hub” cities, and all teams will report to these locations and stay there for the duration of the season.
Canada was willing to work with MLB earlier this summer, but recent data has changed their opinion of the matter. This decision will create a challenge for the Blue Jays, but it will cut down on travel for teams that are on the Blue Jays schedule this season.
Florida, Buffalo Not Ideal Options
The two most logical choices left for the Blue Jays in 2020 are to play their home games in Dunedin, Fla., or Buffalo, NY. Dunedin is the spring training site of the Blue Jays, and Buffalo is where their Triple-A affiliate team plays.
The Blue Jays do not want to play their games in Florida, as the state is one of the hot spots of the virus. Toronto has been training in Dunedin, but they want to get out of the state as soon as possible.
The team announced that Buffalo would not serve as a suitable option because there are several infrastructure issues at that stadium. Sources have confirmed that the team would have to install new lights to meet the requirements of MLB.
Players have also told the team that they prefer to play their games in a Major League stadium.