The Canadian government has rejected a plan for the Toronto Blue Jays to play their home games in Toronto. The minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship said the move would be to risky in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa did give the Blue Jays the okay to hold training camp at their downtown Toronto facility, the Rogers Centre, without the normal 14-day quarantine for players entering Canada, but that was with strict conditions.
Now the federal government is saying no to the plan for the club to play its regular season home games in the city.
The minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino, said unlike training camp, regular season games would need repeated cross-border travel by the team and staff, as well as opposing teams coming into and out of Canada.
“Going forward, the proposal that was put forward would see not only the Jays travel outside of Canada, but opposing teams into Canada," Mendicino said, "and given all of the progress that we’ve made in seeing cases reduced in Canada -- largely attributable to the sacrifices made by Canadians themselves around the ways we’re working and going about our daily lives -- the last thing we need right now is a setback.”
Jays management said it accepts the federal government’s decision, and the safety of fans and the broader community remains a priority. The Blue Jays will be the lone major league baseball team that won’t be playing in their usual home stadium.
A reduced 60-game regular season is set to begin. Team officials said they are finalizing an alternate home ballpark. Possibilities include Buffalo’s Sahlen Field or Dunedin, FL where they have their spring training facilities.