BUFFALO, N.Y. — Spring training is open, and the Blue Jays say they're taking a more proactive approach due to the closed Canadian border in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
Team President and CEO Mark Shapiro says with circumstances much the same as they were last year, they team did not bother to formally ask the Canadian government for permission to play in Toronto with the border still closed. Last year the federal government denied the Jays request to play at Rogers Centre, and they wound up playing the majority of their home games in Buffalo.
"The alternatives for our season lie in some combination of Dunedin, Buffalo, and Toronto."
The team has announced they will play their first two homestands at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida. Those involve games starting April 8th against the Angels and Yankees, and conclude May 2nd against the Braves.
The next homestand begins May 14th against Philadelphia. That's where Buffalo could once again enter the equation.
"We ended up back where we were last year... Buffalo does present both the most familiar and best alternative for us playing in the AL East."
Shapiro says they will have to pursue more "permanent" modifications to Sahlen Field such as removing the bullpens from the field and creating an expanded weight room away from concourse areas in light of the fact that a limited number of tickets will be sold this year given the fact New York State is allowing 10% capacity for arenas and stadiums that seat ten thousand or more.
The Bisons will continue this season as Toronto's Triple-A affiliate, but will likely be displaced for however long the Blue Jays wind up playing in Buffalo before the border opens and they're allowed to return to Toronto.
"We'd find a different home for the Triple-A team... something we're already working on. I'm not prepared to say what that is yet. We're not prepared to just kick the Triple-A team to the street, We've worked with Mike Buczkowski and the Buffalo Bisons... That's our Triple-A team. We certainly want them to be in the best situation possible. If we wind up moving to Buffalo at some point in the season, we'll find a very good home for our Triple-A team as well."
The Bisons released their 2021 schedule Thursday. Opening day is set for April 6th at Sahlen Field.