The Toronto Blue Jays have looked into using PNC Park in Pittsburgh as a site for their 2020 home games, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi can confirm.
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Gazette was first to report the news.
PNC Park, which opened in spring 2001, is the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Blue Jays have been actively looking for a site at which to play their home games after the Canadian federal government denied the team’s request to play in Toronto. The decision stemmed largely from the risks associated with frequent cross-border travel, and the ongoing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in many areas of the United States.
While the Blue Jays have also explored Dunedin, Fla. and Buffalo as potential home game sites, issues with the available space of minor-league facilities and lighting present infrastructure challenges that would have to be remedied on a short timeline. The Buffalo Bisons, Toronto’s triple-A affiliate, issued a statement yesterday saying they would work to accommodate the Blue Jays’ needs, but with opening day on the horizon, it remains to be seen if work could be completed in time.
On Sunday, Blue Jays players articulated a desire to play games at a major-league facility, saying it would give the team the best chance to win.
“I would like to go to a major-league field,” outfielder Teoscar Hernandez said. “But for me, I don’t care where, I just want go and play and do my job and try to do things to help the team.”
Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is a guiding factor in any decision for where Toronto will play, a point made clear by team president and CEO Mark Shapiro on Saturday and echoed by reliever Anthony Bass today.
“We don’t want to be in a place where it’s a hot spot,” Bass said. “We want to be where it’s safe, a place in the United States where cases are going down or are already low.”
To that end, Allegheny County — where Pittsburgh and PNC Park are located — has 6,263 total reported COVID-19 cases according to a database maintained by The New York Times. For comparison, Pinellas County, the location of Dunedin, has had 13,482 cases overall and 2,423 in just the last seven days.
The Blue Jays will open their 2020 season on July 24 in St. Petersburg, Fla. against the Tampa Bay Rays.