Toronto Blue Jays' journey to get their stadium

Six days after the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball campaign, the government of Canada denied them permission to play at the Roger Center. From there Pittsburgh, Washington and Baltimore were options to be 'local', until Buffalo appeared .

Toronto Blue Jays emblem and view of an MLB stadium

The Toronto Blue Jays did not obtain permission from the Canadian government to play at the Rogers Center. / Photo: twitter.com/BlueJays, Pixabay

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Leer en español: Así fue la travesía de los Azulejos de Toronto para conseguir estadio

What a hard experience the Toronto Blue Jays had during the days leading up to and the early stages of the shortened 2020 season of Major League Baseball (MLB) after the Government of Canada rejected for security reasons against Covid19 and in relation to the request of the 'birds' playing at the Rogers Center, their traditional home.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the federal government's rejection of the request to use the Roger Center, considering the risk of players traveling to and from the United States regularly for three months.

"There were serious risks if we went ahead with the Major League and Blue Jays proposal over the regular season, and therefore we concluded that this was not in the best interest of national interests , " said Mendicino Us.AS.


Happy ending in Buffalo

Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro had already indicated weeks earlier that Buffalo was one of the top choices. At Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, the Triple A affiliate of the team plays and is quite close to the city of Toronto, only 160 kilometers (just over an hour and a half by car), and although it has a smaller capacity, it is somewhat inconsequential because there will be no public.

Anything else to say about the new house? Yes. It is not a stadium with the paraphernalia of the majors, but its measurements are quite close to 325 feet for left field, 371 for left-center, 404 for center, 367 for center-right and equal measurements for left field. right band.

“We are extremely grateful to have a home in Buffalo this season, thanks to the openness, creativity, and collaboration of the Buffalo Bisons, MLB, and Blue Jays team, who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for this venue,” said the President. and CEO of the Blue Jays, Mark Shapiro, in a statement also released by Milenio. com

The manager finished “this process has undoubtedly tested the resistance of our team, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses: we are determined to play with the same intensity and competitiveness that our fans expect in the coming months. ”.

Toronto wanted a major league park to play and therefore the PNC in Pittsburgh (500 kilometers) or the Camden Yards in Baltimore (740 km) were excellent options that did not happen.


Travesía, Stop 1: Florida

Once it became known that in Canada they would not play, the ordeal began. Dunedin, Florida, emerged as option # 1 for being the ninth alternate stadium for preseason games. The problem is that the Florida department is one of the most affected by the Coronavirus. For that reason, the same team thought of other alternatives.

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Stop 2: PNC Park in Pittsburgh

The mentioned stadium, home of the Pirates, seemed to be the ideal accommodation for the Blue Jays once the possibility of Florida was rejected. But the shooting of cases in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) and its 1.2 million residents dramatically changed the plans.

The increase in this region was due to the fact that the bars and restaurants ignored the established parameters of social distancing upon the return from other areas of some residents, for which reason these citizens were asked to return to quarantine for 14 days at home.

Regarding this possibility, which was announced in some media, Wilfredo Guzmán, a Venezuelan journalist specializing in baseball, referred to what PNC Park in Pittsburgh could be as the headquarters of the Canadian team, and valued it as more negative than positive .

“That change would have hurt them, it is evident because the weather and climate aspect favors the batters in the Roger Center because the ball walks more and more and better hits are given. On the other hand, it is not easy in any stadium to which you must adjust days before the start of a season. It is an adaptation process that must take its toll on a team that this year will focus on developing players like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Nate Pearson, ”he explained.

Ultimately, the Pennsylvania jurisdiction did not allow the Blue Jays to play at Pittsburgh's PNC Park Stadium. "In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania," said Rachel Levine, secretary of state health, in statements released by the US.As.

“Adding travelers to this region for any reason puts residents, visitors and members of both teams at risk. We know that this virus does not discriminate, and can even make professional athletes seriously ill , " Levine added.

Stop 3: Washington

Shortly before confirming the Buffalo, which was also initially managed as an option with Dunedin, a report by Dan Connolly and Ken Rosenthal appeared, indicating that the Blue Jays could play their first series at home in Nationals Park, home of the Reigning Monarchs Washington Nationals.

In this sense, the idea arose to stay in that stadium for a couple of days more to carry out at least their first series as a local in that stadium, preventing them from moving around. But the offer was only for July 29 and 30.


Stop 4: Baltimore

Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the fifth alternative, and seemed viable, but while awaiting the response from the Maryland government, it was decided to play in Buffalo, New York. The issue with Baltimore was that the agreement called for the construction of a pop-up locker room due to which Orioles would not facilitate either of the existing two.