Despite a report on Thursday that stated that the Blue Jays had been granted permission to play their home games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, it appears as though their request has been denied.
Breaking. The federal government has rejected the Blue Jays plan to play in Toronto for the upcoming season.
— David Cochrane (@CochraneCBC) July 18, 2020
On Thursday, Lisa MacLeod, a Member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament, said that the government had given the Blue Jays the green light to play in Toronto. Shortly after that, the organization stated that they had not yet been given clearance from the Canadian Federal Government.
Ultimately, the federal government denied the Blue Jays’ request due to the amount of cross-border travel that it would require.
“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,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said.
Toronto is set to be one of the NHL’s two hub cities (along with Edmonton) for the league’s playoffs starting in August. But, the difference in this situation is that the NHL players are being put into a quarantine bubble and they won’t be travelling around the United States and coming in and out of Canada, as the Blue Jays would be if they played in Toronto.
Opening Day is under a week away and the Jays are going to have to scramble to find themselves a home. Their two options are Dunedin, where their spring training facility is located, or Buffalo, where their Triple-A affiliate plays.
Dunedin is in a COVID-19 hotbed, but boasts a much better facility than Buffalo, which isn’t up to MLB’s television standards, among other issues. At this stage, though, I would guess the Jays would prefer playing in Buffalo, which is a much safer location, even if the facility isn’t as good.
The Blue Jays’ “Home Opener” is scheduled for July 29. The Jays are playing two games in Washington on July 27 and 28 and then the Nationals were set to play two games in Toronto. If the Jays need more time, they can play two games as the home team in Washington. They would need to get their home sorted out by July 31 at the latest, when they’re scheduled to host the Phillies.