While there are several hurdles for the Blue Jays to play their home games in Toronto this year, there’s a safe way it could be done.
With MLB on the verge of getting Spring Training re-started next week, there’s a lot for teams to sort out in short order. For the Blue Jays, that list is probably a little longer than the average team.
The biggest complication facing the Blue Jays right now is the fact that they are the lone team outside of the United States, and there’s a federal order between their home diamond and the rest of the league. The early reports are that the Blue Jays have made a formal request to the federal government to grant them an exception to the typical rules for non-essential travel, such as bypassing a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The same type of idea has been talked about with the NHL as well, and it’s possible that the Blue Jays could get approval.
Typically I might be on the side of thinking that the Blue Jays would be better off finding a home park south of the border for the 2020 campaign, and just avoiding the headache altogether. However, there’s a way this could be done safely, which is why I think the option could realistically be on the table.
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For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Rogers Centre, there is a Marriott hotel that is part of the building, and you can even book rooms that overlook the field. Granted, it would be a bit of a process to go through customs right now, but from there it’s not that hard to imagine how you could pull it off safely. Visiting players could go directly to the Rogers Centre when they arrive in Toronto, stay at the hotel for the duration of their time in the city, and head directly back to the airport once the series is finished. It would be a bit like a biosphere of sorts, or at least it could be set up that way if necessary.
Right now the Blue Jays will be at the mercy of the federal government, and the latest comes from Shi Davidi’s article on Sportsnet, quoting the Associated Press:
"“Anna Maddison, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, told The Associated Press that the government ‘has received, and is currently assessing, a restart plan from Major League Baseball’.”"
This is a pretty fluid situation that has the potential to change quickly. With that in mind, there are reports that several Blue Jays players and staff have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, so that could change things as well.
For the time being, the Jays will have to wait on an answer, and will also have to line up some alternative plans if they’re not granted permission to play at home. That could include their spring training complex in Florida, perhaps they could use a place like Buffalo where their Triple-A affiliate is stationed, or even a solution like sharing Tropicana Field has been reported as a possibility.
We’ll likely find out the answer some time over the next few days, but if the federal government will allow it, the Blue Jays are pretty well set up to play their home games in Toronto.