The Toronto Blue Jays began the 2021 MLB season playing home games at TD Ballpark at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., but have since moved back to Buffalo’s Sahlen Field because the border that separates the United States and Canada continues to be closed to non-essential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With coronavirus vaccine rollouts occurring throughout both countries, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro told reporters Tuesday that there’s hope the Blue Jays could play home games back in Toronto at some point this season and that talks between the organization and Canadian health officials have recently become “certainly more positive.”
“Just focus on the border, recognizing anything around that is going to be a challenge — not impossible — but a challenge,” he explained, according to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “But the only clarity exists around the border being open.”
The Blue Jays haven’t hosted an opponent at Rogers Centre in Toronto since Sept. 29, 2019, and went 17-9 in Buffalo during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. They’re scheduled to call Buffalo home through at least July 4 and would likely extend their stay there rather than head elsewhere if they’re not cleared to return to Toronto this summer.
Shapiro’s update comes two days after reports surfaced that the NHL is working with Canadian officials about potential travel plans involving American teams and one Canadian club for at least the semifinal stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Currently, all personnel would have to quarantine for 14 days upon entering Canada, which is preventing all cross-border travel among sports entities.
The NHL created a temporary all-Canadian division for its 2020-21 season.