Blue Jays to play in Buffalo, not Hartford, amid pandemic concerns

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TORONTO (AP/WTNH) — The displaced Toronto Blue Jays will play in Buffalo, New York, this year amid the pandemic, despite overtures from state and city officials in Connecticut this past week.

An official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday that the Blue Jays will play at Sahlen Field. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of an announcement.

The park is where the team’s Triple-A affiliate plays.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Governor Ned Lamont had discussed the possibility of the Jays calling Dunkin’ Donuts park in the capital city home for 2020. However, the move to Buffalo makes more sense for the team.

The Blue Jays are looking for a major league park after the Canadian government declined to allow them to play in Toronto, and the state of Pennsylvania nixed a deal to play in Pittsburgh because of frequent travel throughout the United States.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York urged Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in a letter to pick Buffalo.

“Since it is Opening Day, there is little time for continued deliberation – now is the time to act – and Buffalo is ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome Major League Baseball to Sahlen Field and Western New York,” he wrote.

“I strongly urge MLB and the Blue Jays to choose Buffalo as your home for the 2020 season.”

Schumer noted the partnership between the Buffalo Bisons and the Toronto Blue Jays has been strong since their affiliation began in 2013.

Toronto begins the season at Tampa Bay on Friday. The Blue Jays are scheduled to play their first home game July 29 against the defending champion Washington Nationals.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that there have been talks about the state hosting the Blue Jays. It was not immediately clear if the the state turned down the Blue Jays amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore in recent weeks.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said this week his team had more than five contingency plans for a home stadium and was in talks with other teams. Outfielder Randal Grichuk said Tuesday the players were told Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore is a possibility.

Atkins had previously said if the Blue Jays can’t find a major league park, Buffalo be their most likely site for home games. But it lacks major league-caliber facilities.

The team had been considering playing home games at its training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but that is among the states that are virus hot spots.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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