MINNEAPOLIS – The Toronto Blue Jays will get government approval to expand seating capacity at Rogers Centre to 30,000 fans per game in time for their final homestand of the season.
The decision by the Ontario government comes days before the Blue Jays open a critical three-game series against the New York Yankees on Sept. 28. To this point in the season, the Blue Jays have limited capacity to 15,000 fans due to COVID-19 safety protocols in conjunction with government and public health officials.
But on Thursday they started selling more tickets for their final six games in the hopes that approval would soon follow.
"I think that's going to be awesome," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Thursday before news of expanded capacity became official. "When we had 15,000 it sounded great. I know what that place sounds like when there's a lot more than that, so it's going to be awesome. I'm looking forward to it."
Ontario's new COVID-19 rules allow for a maximum of 75 per cent capacity or 30,000 people for outdoor venues -- whichever is less.
The province considers Rogers Centre an outdoor venue.
"We are confident even with the roof closed given the amount of air and space, we can continue to consider (Rogers Centre) an outdoor venue," Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said during a press conference on Friday.
To this point in the season, the Blue Jays have opened the Rogers Centre roof whenever possible to maximize air circulation.
The Blue Jays began their season in Dunedin, Fla., before playing at the home of their triple-A Buffalo affiliate for two months and finally moving to Toronto starting July 30. So far this season, they’re 21-9 at Rogers Centre but some of their most important home games are coming up over the last week of the season as both American League wild-card spots remain unclaimed.
The Blue Jays announced Thursday that they are requiring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for all fans 12 and older. Negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be accepted except “for individuals with a doctor’s note indicating they cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions.”