Pirates open to Blue Jays using PNC Park if able to ‘safely accommodate’

PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The Pittsburgh Pirates confirmed Monday that they are in active discussions with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays regarding whether the Blue Jays can play their home games at PNC Park.

“This will be a monumental challenge for our staff, but leaning in to help others is what Pittsburghers do best,” Pirates president Travis Williams said in a statement. “If we are able to safely accommodate, not only will it bring additional international attention to our city, it will also bring with it jobs and revenue for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses that will support the Blue Jays as well as additional visiting teams.”

Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was first to report the news Sunday that the Blue Jays had reached out to the Pirates about using PNC Park.

Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi later confirmed Mackey’s report, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported Monday that the Blue Jays are also looking at Baltimore’s Camden Yards as a possible temporary home.

If PNC Park is suitable, the Blue Jays and Pirates will have schedule conflicts on July 29 as well as Sept. 8-9 and Sept. 21-24.

The Blue Jays were informed on Saturday by the federal government that they will not be allowed to play home games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto due to the frequent travel over the Canada-U.S. border that the 60-game schedule would require. As a result, the team is now looking for a park that can both accommodate MLB games and is not located in a COVID-19 hotspot.

Two other sites being considered are Sahlen Field in Buffalo, home to the Blue Jays’ triple-A affiliate, and TD Park at the team’s spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla. Sahlen Field would need lighting and other facility upgrades to be able to accommodate MLB games, while Florida remains one of the larger hotspots for COVID-19 in the U.S.

Some Blue Jays players have said they would prefer to play in an MLB ballpark if possible. On Monday, general manager Ross Atkins confirmed the team has a handful of scenarios it is considering and acknowledged the players’ desire to not play in a minor league park.

“It’s evolving and a moving target,” Atkins said. “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.”

The Blue Jays open the season on July 24 on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays and have their first “home” game on July 29 against the Washington Nationals.

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