With the Canadian border restrictions being lifted, the Toronto Blue Jays are looking at a July 30 return to Rogers Centre and a departure from Buffalo’s Sahlen FIeld.
The Toronto Blue Jays have played home games this season first at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark and Buffalo’s Sahlen Field with the U.S.-Canadian border closed, but neither was an ideal situation. Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro had previously mentioned a potential August return to Roger Centre, but it now looks like July 30 is the target date, as it’s the start of a scheduled 10-game homestand. It’s being reported the city and province have already signed off on the team’s proposal for a return, with only the federal government approval still needed. From Sportsnet:
The Blue Jays plan is likely to be built around the easing of border restrictions for returning travellers that take effect Monday, and would also need to account for the segment of unvaccinated players in Major League Baseball.
One possibility is that fully vaccinated players would be afforded the same freedoms as other returning travellers while those unvaccinated would be subject to some type of modified cohort quarantine akin to those used by the Montreal Canadiens and their opponents in the NHL Stanley Cup semifinals and finals, and teams in the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament.
During his comments last month, Shaprio said the border restrictions were the primary obstacle standing between the club and a return home, and that any proposal would likely cover travel rules for his players, their families and visiting teams. Both union and MLB approvals would also be needed.
The border has already been opened to sports teams: the Stanley Cup finals were played at Montreal’s Bell Centre, while MLS’s Toronto FC is also looking at a return this month.
Presumably a July 30 return for Toronto would lead to a return of the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A East) to Sahlen Field. Bisons officials say it would take two weeks or so to transition back to Buffalo from the team’s temporary home in Trenton. The Blue Jays are set to play in Buffalo as late as July 21, and given the Bisons schedule, it would be August 10 for a return to Sahlen Field–and, conveniently, the Bisons schedule doesn’t yet specify a location for games on that date.
RELATED STORIES: Canadian teams hold out hope for 2021 return; Blue Jays begin Buffalo tenure tonight; Blue Jays end Dunedin run; Blue Jays make it official: Shuffling off to Buffalo on June 1; Blue Jays to Buffalo, Bisons to Trenton; Blue Jays extend Dunedin residency through May; Canadian pro teams prep for border challenges; Blue Jays may displace Bisons in Buffalo; Blue Jays to begin 2021 MLB season in Dunedin’s TD Ballpark