After the Canadian government refused to give the Toronto Blue Jays a coronavirus travel exemption, the team will not play their 2020 Major League Baseball home game in their own stadium.
The Blue Jays season opener is Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, in Tampa, but their home opener is scheduled for July 29 against the defending World Series Champion, Washington Nationals. There, the two teams would be finishing a four-game series with the final two contests on the Blue Jays' home field.
Toronto now must scramble to find a venue to play 30 home games without spectators.
"Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opposing 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," Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said.
The NHL has received an exemption for its restart to the season, but that was a far simpler case because the games are restricted to two hubs -- Edmonton and Toronto.
It was reported earlier this week, that the Blue Jays have reached out to the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, to explore the possibility of Toronto’s home schedule being played in Buffalo. Toronto has been the Bisons' parent since 2013.
The Blue Jays issued a statement Saturday afternoon that said, "The club is 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."
"I just feel for them because I know they would like to play in their home stadium," Nationals shortstop Trea Turner said when asked about the Blue Jays situation in Zoom press conference Saturday evening. "I know those guys are probably a little bit more upset about it because they want to play in their home ballpark where they’re comfortable. But there’s going to be a lot of adjustments this year."
Nationals ace Max Scherzer also chimed in saying "every day’s going to be a challenge. There’s something new is going to pop up every single day. That’s the reality of the world."
"We don’t know where we’re going to play Toronto. Who knows where we’re going to play them?" Scherzer said. "But, we’re going to play baseball and find a way to get the games going. And when we do play them, it’s going to be fun."
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