After the Blue Jays were denied permission to play at their baseball stadium, Rogers Center, in Toronto, over concerns about teams crossing the border amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they explored other options like dividing matches with the Orioles and the Pirates. , at Camden Yards and PNC Park, respectively. The other option the Blue Jays explored was playing their home games at the club’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. But with the continued surge of COVID-19 in Florida, the spring training site has been ruled out.
The Blue Jays are scheduled to begin their 2020 campaign on Friday at Tropicana Field to face the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto’s first “home” series is scheduled for Wednesday July 29 and Thursday July 30, but the club will play the pair at Nationals Park against the Washington Nationals. Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath said the club are planning to play their home opener at Sahlen Field on July 31 against the Phillies or August 11 against the Marlins. It’s unclear how long upgrades will take for Buffalo Baseball Stadium.
In the league’s new geographic schedule for this season, teams will not venture outside of their “regions” in an attempt to contain additional exposure to COVID-19. With the Blue Jays playing their 2020 home games in Buffalo, that will work pretty well when it comes to travel for their AL East and NL East opponents.
Buffalo was one of the original options when the Blue Jays first encountered playing issues at Rogers Center, but players have expressed interest in wanting to play at a major ballpark. Sahlen Field will require a reconfiguration of the clubhouse, training facilities and baseball stadium lights, to bring the stadium up to the level of an MLB baseball stadium. Some other concerns should be addressed: the location of the reliever pen being in playable foul territory as well as ensuring that there is sufficient space for social distancing between players and coaches. But the Blue Jays organization believes it’s an easier option than continuing to wait for government approval to share an MLB baseball stadium.
Sahlen Field is located in downtown Buffalo, with dimensions of 325 feet in left field, 404 feet in center field and 325 feet in right field. The home run fence is 12 feet high in left field and eight feet high in left and right center field. The baseball stadium was designed by HOK Architects (Kansas City), the group that also built the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Buffalo Bisons had their minor league season canceled on July 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 MLB season will consist of 60 games and will end with an expanded playoff series of 16 teams.