TORONTO – As the Toronto Blue Jays’ search for a summer home continues, Baltimore’s Camden Yards has emerged as one of the sites earning active consideration to host the team’s 2020 home games.
Since learning Saturday that they would be unable to play their 2020 home games in Toronto, the Blue Jays have narrowed in on five alternate scenarios, according to general manager Ross Atkins. All things being equal the club would prefer to play at a major-league stadium, and though Atkins declined to detail which ballparks are under consideration, Camden Yards factors into at least one of the scenarios, according to industry sources.
At the same time, other possibilities remain in play, too. Among them: the home of Toronto’s triple-A affiliate, Buffalo’s Sahlen Field and PNC Park, the home of a Pittsburgh Pirates team led by former Jays execs Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders.
It’s also possible the Blue Jays could play ‘home’ games at more than one venue or tweak their existing schedule in conjunction with MLB and the MLBPA.
“It’s evolving and a moving target,” Atkins said on a conference call Monday. “We want to make sure we have health and safety as a priority. The players’ feedback and their perspective is exceptionally important to us. We’re working very hard with major-league baseball to come up with the most viable, realistic, safe options for our team.”
With just nine days remaining until the Blue Jays’ home opener, the club has to be open-minded as it searches for answers. But on paper, Camden Yards makes some sense for a few reasons.
• Players have expressed a preference for a major-league stadium, and Camden Yards certainly has space and amenities to keep players safe and comfortable.
• For the entire month of September, the Blue Jays and Orioles are never home at the same time.
• While scheduling conflicts exist in July and August, nearby Nationals Park could conceivably be used as an alternate site for the dates in question, as colleague Shi Davidi outlined Sunday.
This isn’t the first time the Blue Jays have considered playing at the home of a division rival. Earlier this summer they were in contact with the Tampa Bay Rays about the possibility of playing at Tropicana Field, but the surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida has since made the area less appealing.
On Saturday, the federal government announced that the Blue Jays would not be permitted to play their home games in Toronto out of concern for public health. Since then, team decision makers have faced the dual challenge of finding a home site and preparing players for Friday’s season opener against the Rays.
If the Blue Jays play in Buffalo, the rest of their 60-player pool would train in Rochester, NY, according to Atkins. Frontier Field would normally house the Twins’ triple-A affiliate but with no minor-league season taking place, the facility’s available to the Blue Jays. Still, it’s a possibility they’d rather avoid.
“All things being equal we would much rather be in a major-league facility,” Atkins said. “We just have to weigh that with what that means in the world of a pandemic.”
At some point soon, the club will need a resolution. For now, the uncertainty lingers for staff and players alike.