The Canadian government has denied the Blue Jays approval to play games in their home city of Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from Rob Gillies of the Associated Press. While the Blue Jays were given the go-ahead by the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario to host regular season games at the Rogers Centre, they were still awaiting clearance from the Canadian federal government.
As of now, the likely outcome is that the Blue Jays pivot their regular season games to Buffalo, the home of the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate. Dunedin, Florida, where the team holds Spring Training, has also been floated as an alternative, though Buffalo now looks preferable given the state of the virus in Florida.
In an official team statement, the Blue Jays said they are “in the process of finalizing the best home location for the remainder of the 2020 season and will share an update as soon as it is available.”
This development comes as something of a surprise, as just days ago it was looking like a good bet that the Rogers Centre would host regular season games as intended this year. However, shuttling MLB teams back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border poses undeniable concerns about preventing the spread of COVID-19, which have only been heightened in light of diverging COVID-19 trends between the United States and our neighbors to the North.
As reported by Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Canadian government has informed the Blue Jays that it would be “open to considering future restart plans for the post-season” if at that time risk of virus transmission has been tempered. But for the time being, it’s looking like Toronto will have to wait until 2021 for Blue Jays home baseball.