Canada Will Not Allow The Blue Jays To Play In Toronto
As the MLB starts playing games in regional stadiums at least one team will have to find a new home stadium. The Blue Jays won't be allowed to play their home games in Toronto. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays' request to play at Rogers Centre. Canada's government doesn't think it's safe for players to travel back and forth from the United States and are choosing the safety of their citizenship over the money it would produce for the city.
"There were serious risks if we proceeded with the regular-season proposal of the MLB and the Jays and therefore we concluded it was not in the national interest," Mendicino said.
The team had been given clearance by city and provincial governments to play in its home stadium and was awaiting approval from Canada's federal government.
"Without any hesitation we respect the decision. It's not hard to think about how well managed and well led the virus has been throughout Toronto and Canada by public health and political leaders," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21.
"In Canada you've seen us flatten the curve. You've seen that cases have decreased significantly and that is largely attributable to the sacrifices Canadians have made. We can ill afford a step back," Mendicino said.
"We think this is the right call and it is backed by the evidence and advice of our health experts. And fans who still would like to see baseball will still be able to watch the broadcast, just from a different location."
The Blue Jays received an exemption for summer camp. In that case the players isolated in the hotel attached to Rogers Centre and create a quarantine environment. Players were not allowed to leave the stadium or hotel and violators face fines of up to $750,000 Canadian ($551,000 U.S.) and up to six months in jail.
"COVID-19 still exists and there are hardworking people on the front line trying to battle the virus. You have to respect the Canadian government's decision to keep the nation safe," Blue Jays pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu said through a translator. "We don't even know where we are going to end up playing the regular-season games, but as players we are all just trying to rally together," he said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory was in support of the Blue Jays playing in Toronto and pushed the federal government to approve the plan but said Saturday he understands the decision given the situation in the U.S.
Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network, said the city and province were wrong to push for games to be played in Canada.
"Having people coming from the U.S. repeatedly is not the right thing to do," Morris said. "This should have been by a decision made in Toronto or by the province. It's a bit disappointing it had to be made in Ottawa."
"Let's find a way to make them the 'Buffalo Blue Jays' this year," Poloncarz wrote in a text to the AP. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have campaigned to relocate the team to their city.
"Dunedin is the only one that is 100% seamless right now and ready to go. That from a player-health standpoint has some challenges," Shapiro said. "Buffalo is certainly one that we've spent an increasing amount of time on in the past few weeks. That is not done. There are some infrastructure and player-facility challenges to get that up to major league standards. And then we have other alternatives that are real that we continue to work through that may be better for us."
"Buffalo is the place we've spent the most time on in the last 10 days," Shapiro said. "There is a lot we have to do. Some of it might get done after we start playing but I'm confident Buffalo is a viable alternative. With the amount of resources that we would marshal if we focused solely on Buffalo we can make it what it needs to be for us in time to play games."
"Whatever the challenge is, wherever you've got to play, wherever you've got to go, just keep a smile on your face," All Star Pitcher Max Scherzer said. "Who knows where we're going to play them -- but we're going to play baseball. We're going to find a way to play them and get the games going. And when we do play them, it's going to be fun, so just keep a smile on your face and try not to get too down about all the hoops we're going to have to jump through."