Two days after Toronto Blue Jays officials announced their home baseball games will be played in Buffalo, the team divulged on Sunday when the first one is scheduled to be played. Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, home of the club’s Triple-A Bisons, will host Toronto’s first home game on Aug. 11. It will hold 28 of the team’s 30 home games.
The Canadian government denied MLB permission to have the team play its home games at Rogers Centre in Toronto because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship, said in a statement earlier this month that it is too dangerous to allow the Blue Jays to play in the country.
“Unlike preseason training, regular season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high,” Mendicino said. “Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety.”
Toronto Bringing Baseball Back to Buffalo
The last time big-league baseball was played in Buffalo was on Sept. 8, 1915. The city has had some form of minor league baseball since 1877. That ended this year, however, when the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Buffalo Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski told reporters the city is excited to host Toronto’s home baseball games.
“There is a lot we need to do to get the ballpark ready for Major League Baseball, and we are committed to doing it,” Buczkowski said.
Because Sahlen Field needs upgrades to get it to MLB standards, the team’s first home game won’t be until Aug. 11. The Blue Jays were slated to play their first home games on Friday and Saturday against the Washington Nationals. They will play both of those games in Washington, but as the home team.
Players Warming Up to Buffalo
When presented with the idea that Buffalo would host the Toronto Blue Jays home games, the players were less than thrilled. Veteran outfielder Randal Grichuk said playing in the minor-league facility was a “last resort.”
Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass told reporters Friday on Zoom that he believes Pittsburgh’s PNC Park was a better alternative.
“I personally feel like our best situation to be in is playing in a major-league ballpark,” Bass said. “And I think that’s where we’re going to thrive and win.”
Pennsylvania state government and health officials disagree with Bass, however, and last week denied the Blue Jays permission to hold their home games at PNC Park.
Since the announcement of home games being played in Buffalo, Toronto players have accepted the new home field. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. told reporters on Friday that he doesn’t believe it will be a problem.
“I’m good, I feel good about it,” Guerrero said. “I’ve seen everyone normal. I haven’t heard anything negative so I guess everyone is good with it.”