The Toronto Blue Jays have been playing in Florida, far away from Canada in a locale that doesn’t provide much in the way of home-field advantage. But starting in June, the Jays will move closer to home to start playing in Buffalo, New York.
Toronto announced Wednesday that it will begin playing at Sahlen Field in Buffalo on June 1.
Blue Jays played in Buffalo in 2020
The Blue Jays used Sahlen Field as their home park during the shortened 2020 season. The Buffalo Bisons, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, normally play there. The Jays went a strong 17-9 in the park last year.
While it won’t be the same as playing in Toronto – which is still impossible due to travel restrictions in Canada – Sahlen Field should provide something of a home-field advantage for the Blue Jays. That’s because the stadium will host up to 4,300 fans per game, provided attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
“The only thing lacking from a successful MLB summer at Sahlen Field in 2020 was the ability to share that experience with our great fans,” Mike Buczkowski, president of Buffalo Bisons owner Rich Baseball Operations, said, via ESPN.com. “I know Buffalo is ready to get back to the ballpark and give the Blue Jays a ‘home-away-from-home’ field advantage that will propel them towards another postseason run.”
Even Canadian fans can potentially attend Blue Jays games in Buffalo. However, those who travel to the United States would face a self-quarantine period upon returning to Canada.
So far, the Blue Jays have gone 14-14, including 7-4 in home games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, Toronto’s spring training facility. They sit in fourth place in the AL East, but are just three games behind the Boston Red Sox, who started the season 18-12 to take the early divisional lead.
DraftKings Sportsbook rates Toronto as a +400 pick to win the AL East this year, behind the New York Yankees (-125) and the Red Sox (+350).
Renovations give Sahlen Field big league feel
When the Blue Jays return to Buffalo, they’ll enjoy a ballpark that feels a bit more like a Major League stadium. A renovation project will add a new weight room to the clubhouse, more batting cages, move the bullpens behind the outfield walls, resod the outfield, and add additional lighting. The Blue Jays and Bisons jointly paid for the renovations.
Buffalo, we’re BACK!⁰⁰We’ll see you June 1st 👋 pic.twitter.com/LptYcKOAZD
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 5, 2021
The Bisons will play their 2021 season in Trenton, New Jersey for at least as long as the Blue Jays are using Sahlen Field. Buffalo is playing in the stadium that formerly hosted the Trenton Thunder, the former Yankees Double-A affiliate.
Normally, the Blue Jays play their home games at the Rogers Centre. Toronto last played in that stadium on Sept. 29, 2019.