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Toronto Blue Jays will play in Buffalo

The Toronto Blue Jays confirmed earlier today that the majority of their home games for the shortened 2020 MLB season will be played at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. The team was forced to come up with a contingency plan after the Canadian government declined to let the team play at the Rogers Centre due to cross-border travel concerns surrounding Covid-19. (As many Buffalo residents already know, travel restrictions have been in place for a few months with our international neighbors because of the virus.)

Although the Buffalo Bisons were not utilizing the ballpark after all minor league seasons were cancelled, Sahlen Field was not our major league affiliate’s first choice. The Blue Jays organization expressed concerns over the field not meeting MLB standards, preferring to play in an official MLB park. The city of Pittsburgh and The Pittsburgh Pirates organization offered to share PNC Park with the team, but the Pennsylvania state government declined over similar coronavirus concerns that the Canadian government had. Another workaround was attempted to be reached with the state of Maryland and the Baltimore Orioles organization for Camden Yards. As the facility would not be ready for Blue Jays home games until September, Toronto decided not to pursue further. An alternative was the team’s spring training facility in Florida, but the option was not explored due to the state currently being a hotspot for the virus.

To get Sahlen Field ready, the Blue Jays will fund upgrades to get it closer to MLB standards.

To get Sahlen Field ready, the Blue Jays will fund upgrades to get it closer to MLB standards. The team’s first scheduled home games next week against the Washington Nationals will be played in Washington, not Buffalo, while changes are made. This will likely include improvements to the clubhouse, workout facilities, and stadium lighting. Additional measures will be taken to ensure safe social distancing for players and coaches, as other teams have done. The Blue Jays are also reported to have reached out to the Sabres organization to potentially use their workout facilities.

Many of the Blue Jays players are familiar with Sahlen Field.

Many of the Blue Jays players are familiar with Sahlen Field. As the Buffalo News noted, over half of the current roster has played for the Bisons. ESPN reported that rising star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. expected Sahlen to favor pitchers because it is a larger field than the Rogers Centre in Toronto. (According to Wikipedia, the ballpark dimensions aren’t too different, but since Vlad has hit home runs in both, I’d say we need to trust the 2019 Home Run Derby runner-up on this point.)

Although it will be exciting to have major league level ballgames played in Buffalo, it’s hard to measure what impact this will have for local businesses. Some hotels may benefit as they accommodate the visiting teams and players. Fans will sadly not be in attendance, as in the case with the rest of MLB. One option we may see is cardboard cutouts of fans at Sahlen Field. It’s obviously not as good as being there in person, but seeing yourself behind home plate on a televised Blue Jays game would be amusing.

Ballpark Dimensions (in Feet)

Left

Left Center

Center

Right Center

Right

Rogers Centre

328

375

400

375

328

Sahlen Field

325

371

404

367

325

Difference?

-3

-4

+4

-8

-3

Sources

buffalonews.com/sports/baseball

www.tsn.ca

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Centre

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahlen_Field

www.msn.com

twitter.com

www.cbssports.com

sports.yahoo.com

www.espn.com

Written by Dan Coughlin

Dan Coughlin

Dan is from Buffalo, graduating from St. Francis High School and SUNY Geneseo. He believes that in order to be a great producer of content, you must be a great consumer of it. He uses this maxim to justify his shameful Netflix viewing habits.

View All Articles by Dan Coughlin
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