Blue Jays to Play Home Games in Florida to Start 2021 MLB Season Amid COVID-19

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2021

Toronto Blue Jays' Cavan Biggio, left, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second from left, Danny Jansen, second from right and Randal Grichuk, right, celebrate with teammates after a 4-1 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Toronto clinched a postseason berth with the win. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays announced Thursday they're going to play all home games through at least May 2 at TD Ballpark, their spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida, because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel between the United States and Canada.

Toronto Blue Jays @BlueJays

Blue Jays Update On 2021 Home Location: https://t.co/b2Eu5iknjs

Toronto played most of its 2020 home schedule at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York.

The Canadian government eliminated all non-essential travel into its country and restricted those entering to Canadian citizens and residents and foreign nationals who meet eligibility requirements. Everyone must produce a negative COVID-19 test before entry.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added to the guidelines in late January, saying those who entered the country must also embark on a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

"Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement," Trudeau said.

The restrictions led the NHL, which features seven Canadian franchises, to create a Canada-only division for its 2021 season. Those teams only face each other to prevent travel between countries.

Meanwhile, MLB and the NBA only have one team apiece in Canada and both are based in Toronto (the Blue Jays and Raptors).

The Raptors announced last week they will play the remainder of their 2020-21 season at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida. They'd previously kept open the possibility of a return to Canada for the second half of the season.

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reported the Blue Jays will evaluate their options as May moves closer, and, if a return to Rogers Centre isn't available, the team may consider relocating to Buffalo for a second straight year, though there would be logistical issues with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons set to resume play.

TD Ballpark has a maximum capacity of 8,500 compared to 16,600 in Buffalo and nearly 50,000 in Toronto, though sports attendance remains limited or nonexistent depending on local coronavirus guidelines.