The Toronto Blue Jays have been Major League Baseball's nomad team for almost a year now. Last year, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Blue Jays did not receive permission from the Canadian government to play at their home ballpark, Toronto's Rogers Centre. Ultimately, they played the home schedule of the abbreviated 60-game 2020 season at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, their Triple-A affiliate ballpark.
This season, the Blue Jays were again blocked from playing in Toronto and instead have played their home games at their spring training ballpark in Dunedin, Florida. Starting June 1, however, the club will be returning to Buffalo for home games in 2021. The team announced the official news on Wednesday:
In a statement, the Blue Jays said "the club's goal has always been to return to play on home soil as soon as it is safe to do so and until then, the team will play its home games at Sahlen Field." Unlike last year, the Jays will have fans at Sahlen Field in 2021. The team said it plans to operate with a 24-percent capacity, which will be roughly 4,000 fans at the park.
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The Buffalo Bisons, Toronto's Triple-A affiliate, began their minor league season this week. For now, MLB has worked out a plan that places the Bisons in Trenton, N.J. for the 2021 season. The Bisons will play their home games at the former home of the Double-A Trenton Thunder, who were lost in the reorganization of Minor League Baseball this past offseason.
Sahlen Field is located in downtown Buffalo, with dimensions of 325 feet to left field, 404 feet to center field and 325 feet to right field. The home run fence is 12 feet high in left field and eight feet tall in left-center and right field. The ballpark was designed by H.O.K Architects (Kansas City), the group who also built Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Sahlen Field recently underwent further renovation that included moving the bullpens behind the outfield walls (they used to be in playable foul territory), installing new batting cages beyond right field, re-sodding of the outfield grass, a new weight room added to last year's reconfigured clubhouse along with two additional lighting poles with LED bulbs.
The Blue Jays have not played a game at the Rogers Centre since Sept. 29, 2019, though they did hold summer camp in Toronto last year.