Blue Jays to head back to Buffalo

Sahlen Field in Buffalo, the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays. June 2018. (Photo from Wikipedia)

The Toronto Blue Jays will soon head back to a familiar spot, but it won’t be Rogers Centre yet.

The ball club announced Wednesday afternoon that on June 1, it will move its home games from its spring training compound at Dunedin, Florida, to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, the home of the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons.

The Blue Jays had called Sahlen Field home during the abbreviated 2020 season after the border closure caused by the spread of COVID-19 made travel to and from Toronto impossible. This time, though, a limited number of fans will be allowed in the stands.

“The Blue Jays will host fans in a limited 24 per cent capacity at Sahlen Field, in accordance with local and state guidelines,” read a statement by the team Wednesday. “Tickets for the club’s first eight home games vs. the Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees, go on sale to the general public on Thursday, May 13 at 10 a.m. Eastern time.”

The Blue Jays and Bisons will work on a joint renovation project for Sahlen Field to prepare it for big-league play. The improvements include moving the bullpens to behind the outfield walls, new batting cages beyond right field, re-sodding the outfield grass, a new weight room, upgraded clubhouses, and LED blub replacements with two additional temporary light poles.

The Jays had success in Buffalo last year, finishing 17-9 at Sahlen Field.

The team has reassured fans that the ultimate goal is to bring baseball back to Rogers Centre, and it will happen once public health officials declare it safe and the border has reopened for non-essential travel.

“We want to thank Canadians for everything they have done to combat COVID-19 in our communities,” read the statement. “Blue Jays fans should continue to follow the latest local public health guidelines, including non-essential travel outside of Canada. Through these efforts, we can hope for the day we reunite with our fans on home soil.”