With the shortened MLB season just days away, the Toronto Blue Jays have yet to find a stadium in which to play home games. The Blue Jays find themselves in this predicament following the Canadian Government’s decision to bar the team from playing games in Canada through the end of the year. There was hope that a deal could be reached as of last week, but no such agreement could be made and the team has no home stadium as a result.
Buffalo has often been cited as a potential destination due to its close proximity to Canada. The Blue Jays have their AAA affiliate based there and the city was once pegged as an expansion destination for the league. Sahlen Field – the home of the AAA Buffalo Bisons – was eyed as a possible expansion stadium in the 90’s. It has size comparisons to Cleveland’s Progressive Field and is less than 35 years old. However, the plan was axed due to the park’s size and renovations that would be required in order to turn a profit.
Sahlen Field is also not up to par with MLB standards, which is something that Blue Jays players have voiced concerns about. Clubhouse and training facilities are typically what make or break these capabilities, which appears to be the case here. Reliever Anthony Bass spoke in a team Zoom press conference about the need to play in an MLB caliber ballpark. “I had a chance to talk with (general manager Ross Atkins) yesterday after I was done pitching, and I just said, ‘Look, we want to play in a major-league ballpark. We feel like that’s the best opportunity for us.”
“He said, ‘I listen to you guys loud and clear. And that’s what we’re going to do for you because that’s what the team wants. It’s really encouraging and super supportive of Mark and Ross for listening to our opinions and really taking them to heart,” Bass continued.
To that end, the Blue Jays have been in contact with other major league teams in regards to sharing a ballpark. Talks appear to be gaining traction with the Pirates, who have welcomed the idea. The schedules between the two teams line up so that there wouldn’t be any clashes, with the Blue Jays having home games while the Pirates are out of town.
“In an effort to help in the return of the game we all love, we continue to have active discussions with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays organization regarding the possibility of hosting home games for the Blue Jays at PNC Park this season,” said Pirates President Travis Williams in a statement.
The Jays officially begin their season on Friday and are first slated to play home games on July 29th against the Nationals. Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins confirmed that the team was moving towards a major league park. “We are focused on getting into a major league facility,” Atkins said.
Should efforts at securing a major league facility fail, the team plans on using Buffalo as a last resort. There have also been talks about using the team’s Spring Training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but those talks have failed to gain traction given recent outbreaks in the state.