The Toronto Blue Jays are back to looking at alternative venues for the 2020 MLB season, after federal officials pulled the plug on a COVID-19 mitigation waiver that would allowed the team to play at Rogers Centre this year.
Provincial officials in the form of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod had announced approval for the Blue Jays playing home games at Rogers Centre and intimated they were merely waiting for federal officials to confirm the approval after the team proposed a limited quarantine, flying in and out of Pearson and shuttling players for both the Blue Jays and visiting teams directly to the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel. But that approval was denied today, with Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino saying that the back-and-forth travel to the United States, where cases are on the rise in many states, led to the conclusion that Rogers Centre was not suitable for 2020 MLB season play. The Blue Jays made the following announcement:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 18, 2020
So that leaves the Blue Jays looking at alternative homes, including Dunedin’s TD Ballpark and Buffalo’s Sahlen Field. There are pluses and minuses to both. Playing in Florida would be convenient for the players who own condos and rent apartments in Tampa Bay, but with Florida failing to handle COVID-19 mitigation and cases rising, there are plenty of health challenges to be addresses. And while team officials have talked about playing at Sahlen Field, they have also expressed concerns about the drawbacks: limited clubhouse and training facilities when compared to Rogers Centre, an older lighting system that doesn’t meet MLB specs, and the lack of installed high-def cameras and production facilities at a time when the 2020 MLB season is basically a television production. Of course, we could see other alternatives pop up in coming days. But the team is under a deadline: the Blue Jays home opener is currently scheduled for July 29 against the World Series champion Washington Nationals.
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