The Toronto Blue Jays, the only MLB team located in another country, may be exploring alternate accommodations for the upcoming shortened season.
According to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, the Jays have reached out to the owners of their Triple-A team, the Buffalo Bisons, to talk about possibly headquartering there instead of in Toronto for the duration of the coronavirus-shortened 60-game season.
Why do the Jays need a different home ballpark?
Due to location, the Jays have it tougher than any other team. When an MLB team enters Canada, it’s not the same as entering New York from Connecticut. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has mandated a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country. So whether it’s the Jays, the New York Yankees, or the Tampa Bay Rays, they all have to spend two weeks in quarantine when they enter Canada.
That’s obviously a non-starter for the Jays and MLB, so they’ve reportedly proposed a solution: Players will be taken directly from the airport to the ballpark in a sanitized bus, and since they’ll all be staying in the hotel that’s connected to their home park, Rogers Centre, they can maintain the quarantine as long as they stay inside.
But that’s not going over well, and neither are the reported penalties for breaking the quarantine, which include a $750,000 fine and possible jail time. Infielder Travis Shaw wasn’t having it.
All summer isn’t gonna happen. Not an option
— Travis Shaw (@travis_shaw21) July 10, 2020
The Canadian government has not approved holding regular season games at Rogers Centre.
Would Buffalo work?
Buffalo is about as close to Toronto as the Jays can get while still being in the United States. There are enough hotels in close proximity to the ballpark to hold both the home team and the visiting team. According to the Buffalo News, the field is of major league quality, but the lighting leaves a lot to be desired. There is no LED lighting that is now standard at ballparks, and what’s already there won’t work for TV broadcasts.
While it could be upgraded, it will be costly — especially since it needs to be done in less than three weeks. There’s doubt that it could be done in time even if the work was fast tracked.
Is there a backup plan?
The Buffalo News reported that the Jays’ backup plan has them headquartering in their newly renovated spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. In fact, that’s the only backup plan they’ve acknowledged. But there’s a complicating factor: a dramatic spike in COVID-19 infections.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida shatters national record with 15,300 new confirmed coronavirus cases.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 12, 2020
So of the Jays’ three choices for a home park this season, one is located in another country and requires a 14-day quarantine for entry; one is located in a state experiencing a huge COVID-19 spike; and one needs costly lighting upgrades to be used at night. Between cripplingly inconvenient, unsafe, and costly, there are no good options, but the Jays will have to pick one soon — especially since the MLB season starts in less than two weeks. Thankfully, the Jays start the season on the road.
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