Blue Jays to start regular season in Florida

The Toronto Blue Jays prepare for a spring-training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida. Photo by Scott Kitching.

The Toronto Blue Jays will be starting another season away from the Rogers Centre.

On the day the team’s pitchers and catchers report to the team’s spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida, the club confirmed earlier reports that it will stick around once the regular season starts. Due to ongoing border restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Jays will start the season playing home games at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark.

According to a release posted on the Blue Jays’ website, the club will play its first twelve home games in Dunedin, covering the entire month of April and the first weekend in May.

“Like all Canadians, we had hoped to see improvements in the public health outlook as we neared the baseball season,” read the statement. “With the ongoing Canada-US border closure, the Blue Jays have made the difficult decision to play the first two homestands of the 2021 regular season at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, with the hopes of a return to play at Rogers Centre as soon as possible.”

Border restrictions last season forced the Jays to play their home games in Buffalo, New York at Sahlen Field, the home of the Buffalo Bisons, its Triple-A affiliate.

As is the plan during spring training, fans will be welcomed at TD Ballpark at 15 per cent capacity. The situation will be re-evaluated as the regular season gets underway.

With plenty of buzz surrounding the Jays thanks to roster moves made in the offseason, the club is hopeful to welcome fans back to Rogers Centre this summer.

“We want to thank all Canadians for everything they have done to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” read the statement. “It is through these efforts that we can hope for warm summer nights under the open Rogers Centre roof, as your Toronto Blue Jays push for the postseason.”