Sahlen Field remains option for Toronto Blue Jays if major league park is unavailable
The state of Pennsylvania won't allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh amid the coronavirus pandemic. That leaves Buffalo's Sahlen Field among the remaining options for the major league team.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health made the announcement Wednesday. Earlier, two officials told The Associated Press that an agreement to share the stadium with the Pirates was pending state approval.
Canada previously denied the Blue Jays' request to play in Toronto because the regular-season schedule would require frequent travel back and forth from the United States, where COVID-19 cases are surging. Canada has flattened the epidemic curve.
Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins said this week his team has more than five contingency plans for a home stadium and was in talks with other teams. He declined to name them.
Atkins said if the Blue Jays can't find a major league park, Sahlen Field, home of their Triple-A affiliate, would be their most likely site for home games. The players have said they strongly prefer to play in a major league park.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he was hopeful the Jays would play in the Queen City, but it was ultimately impractical.
“They [Blue Jays] thought not being in a major league stadium would put them in a competitive disadvantage,” Brown said. “There are big differences between major league ballparks and Triple-A ballparks, even state-of-the-art Triple-A ballparks in terms of facilities.”
Toronto begins the season at Tampa Bay on Friday and is scheduled to play its first home game on July 29 against defending champion Washington.