With Pennsylvania officials rejecting the notion of the Toronto Blue Jays playing the 2020 season at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, the team and MLB officials are again on a search for a home base for the beleaguered franchise.
The Blue Jays and MLB had been working with the Pittsburgh Pirates on a plan to play at PNC Park after a Rogers Centre tenancy was rejected by the Canadian federal government. In the case of PNC Park, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf and his state’s Department of Health pulled the plug on a plan due to a recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases:
“In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “To add travelers to this region for any reason, including for professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams.
“We know that this virus does not discriminate, and can even make professional athletes very sick. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.”
The Blue Jays would have used the left-field lounge into a clubhouse and rented a hotel across the street, with the only shared space the indoor batting tunnels. Besides the issue of existing COVID-19 rates in Pennsylvania, it was clear state officials were not eager to welcome a team that would be playing a significant number of games in Miami and Tampa Bay and then returning to PNC Park.
So now the team moves on to Plans C, D, E and F. One plan has the team splitting time between Baltimore and Washington, while another plan has the team splitting time between Tampa and Miami. Yet another plan has the team playing the entire season on the road, while a final plan calls for Sahlen Field in Buffalo to be pressed into action–a plan that has no support from players. None of these plans are optimal–there’s no guarantee that Maryland or District of Columbia officials would approve a deal, though Gov. Ron DeSantis would be highly unlikely to reject a Florida tenancy for the team–and with the Blue Jays’ home opener set for July 29, the clock is ticking.
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