Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays leaves a meeting session during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. Shapiro says he is optimistic the Major League Baseball club can play at home next season, but adds there are too many variables in play to plan for that. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux

Shapiro hopes Blue Jays can play at home next season, but team eyeing contingencies

Shapiro hopes Blue Jays can play at home next season, but team eyeing contingencies

TORONTO — Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro is optimistic his team will be able play in Toronto next season, but adds there are currently too many variables to begin planning.

Speaking to reporters on a video conference call Friday, Shapiro said the Major League Baseball team is looking at alternatives should the Blue Jays find themselves nomads once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ll adapt to what happens,” Shapiro said. “We want to play in Toronto, we want to play in Canada. That remains our hope.”

The Blue Jays also hoped to play the 2020 season at Rogers Centre, but those plans were dashed when the federal government did not give its approval. A major concern was constant travel across the Canada-U. S. border.

The border remains closed to non-essential travel due to the pandemic, and those entering the country are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“Yes, I am optimistic,” Shapiro said. “But this whole pandemic and crisis has been kind of walking the tightrope between optimism and being candid and real as to what the circumstances are.”

He conceded that opening the season in Toronto with fans at Rogers Centre is “almost impossible.” However, Shapiro said the club will wait “as long as possible” before making any concrete decisions on where it will play.

The state of COVID-19 in Canada and the U.S. in the spring, as well as the development and availability of vaccines, will be among factors to consider.

“We want to have all the information, and things are moving so rapidly,” Shapiro said. “Our optimism and our hope leads us to want to be here, but not to count on that.”

Shapiro said the Blue Jays, who spent the 2020 season at Sahlen Field — the Buffalo, N.Y., base of their triple-A affiliate — have an idea of what they’re looking for should they be forced to camp south of the border. He added, however, the ability to sell tickets is not a prime concern.

“Location, proximity to the teams that we play and what travel looks like, most importantly health and safety,” he said in listing off priorities. “Somewhere in that is revenue, but that’s not at the top of the list.”

Shapiro said when the Blue Jays do get back to Rogers Centre, one of the planned upgrades for the facility is new turf.

“It’s not grass,” he said, but noted that a new turf surface will be permanently affixed and won’t require seams.

Shapiro’s comments came a two days after the Blue Jays announced their new minor-league structure to get in line with new MLB standards. All clubs had to cut down to four affiliates

While the single-A Lansing Lugnuts were a casualty in Toronto’s system, the Vancouver Canadians were changed from short-season single-A to a full-season club.

“I think with Vancouver it was weighing what an incredible impact that affiliation has meant to the organization historically,” Shapiro said. “There has been something incredibly powerful about our young players going there and getting their first taste of what it means to play in Canada.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP MP Heather McPherson pictured in Edmonton on Friday, March 6, 2020. Alberta’s legislature may have been silenced but its partisan warfare has relocated to the House of Commons as MPs hold an emergency debate tonight on the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney under fire during Commons emergency debate on Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis

Edmonton New Democrat MP says Kenney ignored the evidence of science

A General Motors sign in Oshawa, Ont., is photographed on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. General Motors Canada says it will start truck production at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., ahead of schedule. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Oshawa assembly plant restart ahead of schedule, GM Canada says

Closure of plant in 2019 was huge blow to Canada’s manufacturing sector

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, a woman walks by the Australian Embassy in Beijing. China on Thursday, May 6, 2021 suspended an economic dialogue with Australia, stepping up a pressure campaign that began over Australian support for a probe into the origins of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China suspends economic dialogue with Australia

China’s relations with Australia, India and some other neighbours are increasingly strained

An electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, Friday, April, 6, 2018. Should Canada introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own sales targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Should Canada mandate sales targets for electric vehicles? Report says ‘yes’

Parliamentary committee studied how to incentivize the purchase and production of electric vehicles

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Most Read