HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - The Pennsylvania Department of Health won't allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh amid pandemic.
This comes after news this morning that PNC Park would "likely" be the home of the Blue Jays.
"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."
Pirates President Travis Williams released a statement supporting the state's decision, saying:
"I am extremely proud of our staff's effort, together with the support of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, to very quickly present Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays with an option to host their home games here at PNC Park during the 2020 season. This is an unprecedented situation and, therefore, we understand and support Governor Tom Wolf's decision. We are in agreement that the safety and health of those in our region must remain paramount. We are confident that the great people within the Blue Jays organization, working with Major League Baseball, will secure another option very soon."
On Twitter, Mayor Bill Peduto said the situation "never got to the local level. Had DOH supported the decision, it would've gone to the SEA (who owns the building) for review of sub-lease agreement & approval. Our interaction, to this point, has been minimal."
Senator Pat Toomey was critical of the state Department of Health's decision, saying, "If it is safe for Pittsburgh to host the Pirates and visiting clubs for thirty games – and it is – then it is safe for Pittsburgh to host the Pirates, the Blue Jays, and visiting teams for nearly 60 games."
"This decision by Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine is baffling and disappointing," Toomey added in a statement.
Sen. Toomey went on to say that the Blue Jays coming to Pittsburgh would have resulted in more hours for workers, increased tax revenue and a boost for small businesses. He hopes Gov. Wolf changes his mind.
Over the weekend, the Blue Jays were denied permission to use their home stadium, Rogers Centre in Toronto, by the Canadian government.
Monday, the Pirates announced they were in discussions with the Blue Jays and the MLB about hosting the Blue Jays at PNC Park this upcoming season.
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