Blue Jays home games could take place in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, it was reported last night.
Toronto’s “home” opener is just nine days away, but they still do not know where it will be. That’s because, as you have have seen over the weekend, the Canadian government denied the Jays permission to play in Toronto. Said permission was denied because players coming from the United States into Canada was seen as too great a risk given the United States’ continued failure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the club is “looking at PNC Park” in Pittsburgh as “a potential site for some home games” in 2020. Maybe not all, as the Jays and the Pirates’ schedules would create some conflicts. Indeed, the Blue Jays’ scheduled home opener is July 29 vs. the Nationals at 6:37 PM. The Pirates are scheduled to play at home against the Brewers at 7:05 PM that same evening. The Jays’ home stand of August 11-16 does not conflict with the Pirates, nor does their home stand of August 25-31. There are conflicts again on September 8-9, with both teams scheduled to play home games, and again September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. So, in all, that’s only seven games out of 30 home dates which would conflict. It could work with some tweaks. Day games and stuff.
Earlier reported options to play Blue Jays home games in Buffalo are seen less likely now, given that the lights at the Bisons’ Triple-A park are reportedly not up to big league standards and the clubhouses and other facilities are considered below big league standards as well. And that’s not just a problem of creature comforts: Major League Baseball’s distancing and health and safety protocols require a lot of space. The kind of space that isn’t often found in minor league ballparks.
Not the PNC Park would be a panacea. The Pirates and the visiting clubs have dibs on the clubhouses. I do not know, logistically, you could quickly and easily create space for the Blue Jays there. They need places for their stuff. Places to shower and to work with trainers and all of that can’t be moved in and out as quickly as people can be. Perhaps you can set up something portable outside the ballpark — I’ve been told English Premier League visiting clubs have been using such accommodations — but clubhouse space would seem to be a bigger hurdle than the schedule.
That aside, my guess is that Blue Jays home games will be played in Pittsburgh with some accommodations made for the seven games in conflict, be they relocation or shifting to a day-night schedule.
Statement from #Pirates President Travis Williams says active discussions with #BlueJays and MLB are taking place and that sharing PNC Park would "be a monumental challenge for our staff, but leaning in to help others is what Pittsburghers do best." pic.twitter.com/ktTx9yNzFE
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 20, 2020