Updated: July 24, 2020 02:30 PM
Created: July 24, 2020 12:05 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/AP) — The displaced Toronto Blue Jays will play in Buffalo this year amid the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
The Rochester Red Wings confirmed they will host the Blue Jays taxi squad at Frontier Field this season.
The Blue Jays said in a statement Friday that the greater part of their home schedule will be played at Sahlen Field, home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. General manager Ross Atkins had previously said that if the team could not find a major league park, Buffalo would be their most likely site for home games.
The team looked for a major league stadium after the Canadian government declined to allow them to play in Toronto but was unsuccessful in securing a site. The state of Pennsylvania nixed a deal to play in Pittsburgh.
Toronto opens the season at Tampa Bay on Friday. The team said the first scheduled home series, against the Washington Nationals on July 29 and 30, will take place on the road to accommodate necessary infrastructure modifications at Sahlen Field to meet Major League Baseball playing standards and COVID-19 safety requirements.
The Blue Jays' first game in Buffalo will be either on July 31 against the Philadelphia Phillies or on Aug. 11 against the Miami Marlins.
"We are extremely grateful to have a home in Buffalo this season, thanks to the openness, creativity, and partnership of the Buffalo Bisons, Major League Baseball, and Blue Jays staff, who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for games at Sahlen Field,” Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “This process has no doubt tested our team’s resilience, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York urged baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in a letter and call this week to pick Buffalo.
"I've always been a Bisons and Bills fan, so I guess now I'll be a Blue Jays fan, at least this year," Schumer said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It seemed so logical for the Blue Jays to go to Buffalo for geographic and market reasons. If they want to expand their market, it's very good to be in western New York. It's a good facility. It's a major league-caliber playing surface."
Cuomo had told reporters before the announcement he spoke to Manfred on Friday morning.
"If we can get Toronto playing here, I say great. We have the protocols in place, it will be done safely," Cuomo said. "I’d rather it happen here. It’s good for Buffalo."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that there had been talks about the state hosting the Blue Jays. It was not immediately clear if Maryland turned down the Blue Jays amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore. A spokesman for the Baltimore mayor’s office says the city “didn’t have any involvement” on this.
Atkins had said this week that his team had over five contingency plans for a home stadium and was in talks with other teams.
The team had also considered playing home games at its training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but that is among the states that are virus hot spots.
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