After two months in Florida, the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays are again ready to take flight in June and make their temporary home in Buffalo, New York, it was announced Wednesday.
The Blue Jays said they will return to Sahlen Field on June 1 against the Miami Marlins, Sportsnet reported Wednesday. They played the first two months of the season at TD Ballpark — their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida — because of Canadian government restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initial homestand against the Marlins will be followed by a three-game series against the Houston Astros from June 4-6.
Toronto last played at home at Rogers Centre, with its 49,000-person capacity, on Sept. 29, 2019.
Buffalo, we’re BACK!⁰⁰We’ll see you June 1st ? pic.twitter.com/LptYcKOAZD
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 5, 2021
The Blue Jays played home games during the shortened 2020 season at Sahlen Field — home of their Buffalo Bisons Triple-A farm team — going 17-9 there. The Canadian government didn’t allow the team to play at home because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 because of frequent travel required during a baseball season.
While there were no fans during the 2020 season, Buffalo will accommodate approximately 4,300 fans per game at Sahlen Field this season, with that possibly increasing in the future. Capacity is listed at 16,600.
Fans will be required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 to be allowed entry. Canadians could travel to attend games but would have to face self-quarantine rules upon returning home.
“The only thing lacking from a successful MLB summer at Sahlen Field in 2020 was the ability to share that experience with our great fans,” said Mike Buczkowski, president of Rich Baseball Operations, which owns the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. “I know Buffalo is ready to get back to the ballpark and give the Blue Jays a ‘home-away-from-home’ field advantage that will propel them towards another postseason run.”
Prior to games being played in Buffalo, a jointly funded renovation project will move the bullpens off the field to behind the outfield walls, install new batting cages beyond right field, resod the outfield grass, add a new weight room to the renovated clubhouse and install LED bulbs as well as two additional lighting poles.
The stadium’s dimensions measure 325 feet down the lines and 404 feet to center. The ballpark is tight in the alleys, similar to Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
Because the Blue Jays are turning to Buffalo, the Bisons have moved home games to Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey, which became open when the New York Yankees moved their Double-A team this season to TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Before last season, Buffalo had not hosted a major league game since serving home to the Buffeds in the Federal League in 1914-15. The Bisons began as a National League team and had a 314-333 record from 1879 to ’85.
The Blue Jays, who have 10 games remaining in Dunedin, are 14-14 and in fourth place in the AL East through Tuesday’s games. They have gone 7-4 in “home” games at Dunedin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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