As their home opener approaches, Toronto Blue Jays still looking for a home field
The Toronto Blue Jays will not be allowed to use PNC Park in Pittsburgh as their home field for the 2020 MLB season due to concerns over surging coronavirus cases, Pennsylvania health officials announced Wednesday. The announcement comes one day before the season is set to begin, and a week before the Blue Jay's scheduled home opener, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
"In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. "To add travelers to this region for any reason, including for professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams. We know that this virus does not discriminate, and can even make professional athletes very sick. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians."
The Blue Jays would have shared the stadium with the Pittsburgh Pirates had the plan been approved. Allegheny County — where Pittsburgh is located — has seen new confirmed coronavirus cases surge by a factor of 10 in the past two weeks compared to last month, the Associated Press reported. In response to the increase in cases, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf imposed new restrictions last week, shutting down bars unless they also have dine-in service, and capping indoor dining capacity at 25%.
Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins said Monday he is "very confident" the team will find a suitable home field for the 2020 season, saying the organization had "well over five contingency plans."
Atkins also said the team is prioritizing securing a major league stadium to play their home games. If they are unsuccessful, the most likely location would be the Blue Jays' minor league Triple-A affiliate stadium in Buffalo, New York.
The Canadian government on Saturday, also citing coronavirus concerns, announced the Blue Jays would not be allowed to play at the Rogers Centre, the team's usual home field. The Blue Jays and any visiting team would have needed a special exemption from the Canadian government that would have allowed them to forgo the mandatory 14-day quarantine for anybody entering the country.
The shortened 60-game 2020 season is scheduled to begin Thursday. The Blue Jays play their first game Friday at Tampa Bay. Their homeowner against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals is slated for July 29.
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