Chatter about the Toronto Blue Jays looking to play their 2020 home games in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania picked up on Sunday evening as multiple reporters confirmed Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley’s initial report that PNC Park was being explored by the Jays’ front office.
A source tells us #Bluejays are exploring other MLB stadiums as a possibility. Clearly Pittsburgh would be one under consideration. And what a great ballpark. https://t.co/D4C7dMD71H https://t.co/Qfct5jYA7M— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) July 19, 2020
On Saturday the Government of Canada denied the Blue Jays’ request for an National Interest Exemption to the Quarantine Act, effectively blocking Major League Baseball regular season games from Canada for the 2020 season. Alternate home sites, such as Buffalo, New York’s Sahlen Field and Dunedin, Florida’s TD Ballpark, each have their shortcomings and Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass told reporters that he had conveyed to general manager Ross Atkins that his preference would be to play in a major league ballpark.
Longley wrote that the front office is “exhausting all options” to play in major league parks instead of putting up at a minor league site this season. Pittsburgh was noted as a prime partner for the Jays, as the Pirates’ new general manager Ben Cherington and assistant general manager Steve Sanders were both employed by Toronto until last fall, and that the Blue Jays and Pirates only share seven home dates. (And, seeing as both teams’ mascots are birds, they can conceivably share a nest as birds don’t seem to be susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.) Looking at the two teams’ schedules those are:
- July 29: Milwaukee Brewers visiting the Pirates, Washington Nationals visiting the Blue Jays
- September 8, 9: Chicago White Sox visiting the Pirates, New York Yankees visiting the Blue Jays
- September 21-24: Chicago Cubs visiting the Pirates, New York Yankees visiting the Blue Jays
Assuming that the Pirates won’t move their games in favour of their potential new roommates, the Blue Jays would have to find an alternative alternate site for those games. Playing doubleheaders will not be plausible as it would require having four teams in the ballpark at the same time during the transition, and will definitely cut short stretches and batting practice time.
The easiest solution would the the Jays to play their July 29 and 30 home games against Washington at Nationals Park and the September dates against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. The Jays are already scheduled to be in D.C. on July 27 and 28 for a home-and-home series so that really decreases travel complexity.
If they don’t want to the opposing team “home field advantage” they could play the July 29 and 30 games as the home team at Citizen’s Bank Park before they switch to road greys to play the Phillies on July 31 and August 1. Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards is also free during those September dates against the Yankees, should the Jays not want to play 10 games at Yankee Stadium in one month.
And once the Blue Jays chart out where they will be playing home games (at least for the majority of the season) they will have to think about the nitty-gritty logistics like building out a separate Blue Jays club house at their host stadium, moving and setting up equipment there, and figuring out how Blue Jays corporate sponsors and stadium advertisement clients can still be represented at the alternate facility.