Though the Toronto Blue Jays will begin the 2021 MLB season with two homestands at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, team President Mark Shapiro says playing at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field is an option until a return to Rogers Centre.
The goal, Shapiro says, is a return to Rogers Centre sometime this season. When that happens remains to be seen: in recent days Canadian officials have taken steps to tighten the border. In a conference call yesterday, Shapiro said the team would play at Rogers Centre once border restrictions were lifted–even the case where no fans would be allowed to the ballpark because of local health restrictions.
But until that happens, Shapiro says his team has no desire to play in the heat Florida in June through August. And with a good experience playing in Sahlen Field in 2020, Shapiro says a return is possible. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has approved the opening of sports facilities seating more than 10,000 at 10 percent of capacity to begin with. But the main issue for the Blue Jays wouldn’t be the revenue from that small crowd; the issue would be getting players to and from Buffalo. Many ballpark improvements from 2020 are still in place as well.
One issue would be displacing the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, for a huge share of the season. Those plans are already in the works, according to Shapiro:
“The Triple-A team wouldn’t barnstorm. We would find a different home, something we’re already working on,” Shapiro said. “We’re not prepared to say what that is yet. But we’re not just going to kick the Triple-A team to the street.
“We’ve worked with (Rich Baseball president) Mike Buczkowski and the Buffalo Bisons to think very carefully. That’s our Triple-A team and we certainly want them to be in the best situation possible. If we end up moving to Buffalo at some point during the season, we’ll find a very good home for our Triple-A team as well.”
That’s certainly a blow to Rich Baseball; in the offseason the team lost an affiliated team, the West Virginia Black Bears, and its existing MiLB team, including the Bisons and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, were already looking at a rough 2021 on the revenue front.
Image courtesy Toronto Blue Jays, via team’s Facebook feed.
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