Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays to Play in Buffalo Amid Pandemic

The Blue Jays are scheduled to play their first home game July 29 against the defending champion Washington Nationals

The Toronto Blue Jays visiting team auxiliary clubhouse constructed in the concourse is shown before the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season on July 21, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The displaced Toronto Blue Jays will play in Buffalo, New York, this year amid the pandemic.

An official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday that the Blue Jays will play at Sahlen Field. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of an announcement.

The park is where the team's Triple-A affiliate plays.

The Blue Jays are looking for a major league park after the Canadian government declined to allow them to play in Toronto, and the state of Pennsylvania nixed a deal to play in Pittsburgh because of frequent travel throughout the United States.

Hartford's mayor, Luke Bronin, had urged the team to play in Connecticut's capital city at Dunkin' Donuts Park, the home of the Yard Goats.

"In these extraordinary times, we think it could make a great home for the Blue Jays," Bronin said.

"We do believe that we could responsibly, safely host the Blue Jays here for their shorter season this year and obviously think it would be a great thing for the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut," Bronin added.

Governor Ned Lamont said Thursday he would be ready to welcome the Blue Jays to Connecticut.

"I think it'd be a nice thing," Lamont said. "I think it'd be good to get Yard Goats stadium to life and maybe we'll be able to get some people in there in the fall if things get better."

Lamont said he reached out to the team "about a week ago and early on there."

The Yard Goats said they would be honored to have the Blue Jays make Hartford the team's home for 2020.

"Given the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford's diligent work in combatting the coronavirus, the availability of the award-winning Dunkin Donuts Park, and our centralized location in the Northeast, the Yard Goats would be honored to host the Toronto Blue Jays, if given the opportunity," Tim Restall, president of the Hartford Yard Goats, said in a statement to NBC Connecticut.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York urged Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in a letter to pick Buffalo.

"Since it is Opening Day, there is little time for continued deliberation - now is the time to act - and Buffalo is ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome Major League Baseball to Sahlen Field and Western New York," he wrote.

“I strongly urge MLB and the Blue Jays to choose Buffalo as your home for the 2020 season.”

Schumer noted the partnership between the Buffalo Bisons and the Toronto Blue Jays has been strong since their affiliation began in 2013.

Toronto begins the season at Tampa Bay on Friday. The Blue Jays are scheduled to play their first home game July 29 against the defending champion Washington Nationals.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that there have been talks about the state hosting the Blue Jays. It was not immediately clear if the the state turned down the Blue Jays amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore in recent weeks.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said this week his team had more than five contingency plans for a home stadium and was in talks with other teams. Outfielder Randal Grichuk said Tuesday the players were told Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore is a possibility.

Atkins had previously said if the Blue Jays can’t find a major league park, Buffalo be their most likely site for home games. But it lacks major league-caliber facilities.

The team had been considering playing home games at its training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but that is among the states that are virus hot spots.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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