After playing the first six weeks of the 2021 MLB season at TD Ballpark, it sounds like some Toronto Blue Jays are ready to leave the intimate Dunedin ballpark behind in favor of MLB-level facilities.
As far as spring-training ballparks go, TD Ballpark is a fine facility, upgraded in 2020 to add plenty of fan-friendly amenities like a 360-degree concourse, upgraded concessions and group spaces. But it is not a Major League Baseball ballpark, despite the Blue Jays adding features like upgraded lighting to the mix. And what became a nice novelty at the beginning of the 2021 MLB season now has some players saying they can’t wait to move Blue Jays games to Buffalo’s Sahlen Field. While this is a move from one MiLB ballpark to another MiLB ballpark, Sahlen Field certainly has more of a feel as an MLB facility, with a double-decked grandstand. Though most players have declined comment on the playing conditions at TD Ballpark, Marcus Semien did go on the record and say that while Dunedin is great and TD Ballpark is a good spring-training ballpark, he’d rather be playing at more of an MLB ballpark. From the Toronto Star:
“That’s a tough one to answer,” Semien admitted. “I’ve enjoyed being on the road this year actually, because we’re playing in big-league stadiums. I do enjoy the Tampa area, Dunedin area, living here off the field. But I think a lot of us wish we were in a big-league ballpark.
“Yes, when you go on the road you may get booed, or no cheers for you, but it seems like that’s how it is here in Dunedin too; there’s a lot of fans of other teams. Personally, I don’t think playing here is a relief. I just enjoy living in the Tampa area.”…
Even when the ball is visible there are problems. The ocean is a few blocks to the west and the breeze varies by the day. Home-run balls to left sometimes fall well short of the warning track. Weak bloopers to right field somehow find their way to the wall. There’s no home-field advantage when even the locals can’t predict what’s going to happen next.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are still holding out hope that a return to Rogers Centre is still in the cards for this season. Vaccination rates in Canada lag those in the United States, but there’s a big national debate over the efficacy of 14-day quarantines for those crossing the border, with talk of border restrictions being lifted sooner than later. There should be a clearer picture of a Blue Jays return home shortly, as Ontario is revising its reopening plans and standards.
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