In the days leading up to the start of the 2020 MLB season, yet another obstacle came to the forefront: The Canadien government denied the Blue Jays request to play their home games in Toronto. The government stated concern over the pandemic and traveling back-and-forth from the U.S.
The Blue Jays usual home ballpark, Rogers Centre, could not be used for MLB games this season.
This created a big problem. The team tried looking at other options. Their Triple-A team, the Buffalo Bisons, play at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY, and this was the most logical option. However, Major League Baseball stated that the ballpark was not up to MLB standards. So, the Blue Jays started looking elsewhere. The season started, and the Blue Jays played their first few games not even knowing where their home ballpark was.
Thankfully, the first few games of their season were scheduled to be road games, but they still needed to find something quick.
After too many logistical issues arose when trying to schedule sharing a ballpark with the Pirates and Tigers respectively, they decided to re-visit Buffalo. It made the most sense, but in order to host an MLB team, Sahlen Field had to undergo intensive, and accelerated renovations.
Here’s how it turned out: (Photos via @BlueJays on Twitter)
In order to make this happen, the Blue Jays teamed up with staffers from Major League Baseball and BaAm Productions to make the Triple-A park a suitable home for the Blue Jays. Renovations included:
- Expanding the clubhouses into the hallways for social distancing
- Upgrading the batting cages and workout areas
- Replacing and upgrading the dugouts
- Replacing the entire field turf
- Upgrading the stadium lights to MLB standards
- Painting Blue Jays branding throughout the ballpark
- Adding an auxiliary tent for the visitors clubhouse
Here are some before and after photos: (Photos: @BlueJays on Twitter)
It really is a home away from home.
Too bad they couldn’t rotate the field entirely to face the city skyline, as opposed to the highway and a parking garage. Guess that wasn’t in the budget.
This is what the Blue Jays are used to seeing at Rogers Centre in Toronto:
This is what they will see this year:
Just a little bit different, but it will do. It will host Major League Baseball games and that’s all that matters.
The Blue Jays played their first game at Sahlen Field on Tuesday, beating the Marlins 5-4.
The team played their first game of the season on July 24, and did not have their first “home” game until August 11. In that time span they played 13 games, including two as the “home” team while playing against the Nationals at Nationals Park.
This is how their schedule went:
- 3 game series @ TB
- 4 game series @ WSH w/ Blue Jays as home team in 2 games
- 4 game series vs PHI cancelled (Marlins positive coronavirus tests while playing Phillies)
- 3 game series @ ATL
- 3 game series @ BOS
Now they are home in Buffalo. The Buffalo Blue Jays. Got a nice ring to it.