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With MLB season done, Sahlen Field deconstruction begins

Sahlen Field hosting Blue Jays

By all accounts the Toronto Blue Jays‘ temporary tenure at Sahlen Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League), was a success, but now comes the bittersweet part: removing all the improvements and preparing for an uncertain 2021.

The Blue Jays posted a winning record in Buffalo–key in catapulting the team into the playoffs. But there’s no chance of the team hosting a home playoff game (all three games in the first round are being played in Tampa Bay), so Sahlen Field improvements are now being: the canopies, seating covers and parking-lot tent are all being dismantled, weight and cutouts are being shipped back to Toronto, and the trucks providing additional power to temporary lighting in the corners are headed out.

But not every improvement is going away, and the task for the Bisons front office is deciding what to retain, what to change and what to remove. For Rich Baseball Operations President Mike Buczkowski, those decisions are happening now. From the Buffalo News:

The Blue Jays logos above the scoreboard and on the dugout roofs are obvious examples of things that will be returned to Bisons branding. But some of the Blue Jays banners along Washington Street could be retained and the Bisons have to decide if they’re going to keep the blue padding around the field the parent club installed, or return to the green that’s been in the ballpark since 1988 and matches the seats the club has been installing on the lower level in recent years.

“There’s some pretty obvious things but how might we keep some other things in place to further brand our affiliation with the Blue Jays?” Buczkowski said. “Those are exactly the things we’re discussing.”…

“Our overall idea will be, ‘How do we memorialize what happened here so it becomes a regular part of our ballpark in the future?’ ” Buczkowski said. “I think about our Hall of Fame room for that. How do you we capture this so that when fans are allowed to come back in, they’re able to see some really cool things about the history of what happened here this summer?”

Adding to the uncertainty is the unsettled state of Minor League Baseball. While there is plenty of chatter about changes across every league, Buffalo is a virtual lock to be part of the International League–but what the International League will look like in 2021 remains to be seen, and without a schedule or even a final list of opponents, it’s hard to launch a 2021 sales force or many any firm plans for the season. We don’t expect much MLB/MiLB news until after the World Series: MLB is famously focused on the postseason to the exclusion of almost everything else come playoff time, and raising the contentious issue of contraction and MiLB organization during the postseason is highly unlikely.

Image courtesy Toronto Blue Jays, via team’s Facebook feed.

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