The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly signed George Springer, but this season may turn out to be the Springest in franchise history. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Blue Jays are exploring the possibility of playing 2021 regular season games at their spring training stadium in Dunedin, Florida should coronavirus-related travel restrictions prevent their playing in Canada.
The province of Ontario is currently in a lockdown with a stay-at-home order, and there are significant restrictions to crossing the Canada–United States border. Although governments on both sides of the international boundary have been engaging in COVID-19 vaccination programs, it is not certain that the pandemic situation would improve enough by April to convince city, province, and federal authorities to allow professional baseball teams to freely travel into and out of Canada.
With that uncertainty the Blue Jays are looking into remaining in Dunedin after spring training and playing out of TD Ballpark, at least until they are welcome in Toronto again. As Topkin points out, the Dunedin option would reduce moving and set-up costs compared to playing out of Buffalo’s Sahlen Field as the club did in 2020. A full training facility, as well as offices for staff, is located just 10 minutes north of the stadium at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. In addition, Dunedin’s April weather is much more suitable for baseball than Buffalo’s, although the opposite would be true come August and September.
As it is expected that there will be a minor league season in 2021, the triple-A Buffalo Bisons will likely continue to play out of Sahlen Field, whereas the new low-A Florida State League’s Dunedin Blue Jays could shift their games onto the training complex.
Dunedin is formally in the Rays’ home territory, so they and the Commissioner’s Office, as well as the MLBPA, must sign off on any temporary relocation plans.
The Blue Jays regular season home opener, wherever that may be, is scheduled for April 8 against the Angels. We are just 37 days away from their first spring training game against the Phillies on February 27.
How many regular season games will the Blue Jays play in Rogers Centre in 2021?
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