The Blue Jays’ spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., is a less likely landing spot because of the surge in coronavirus cases in Florida. M.L.B. already has two teams in Florida — the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays — but they have been training there all month, and it would seem unwise to ask a whole new group of players to relocate to a virus hot spot.
Sahlen Field in Buffalo — named for a local meatpacking company — opened in 1988 with hopes of landing an expansion team or luring an existing team to town. The ballpark added a $1 million lighting system in 2011, according to The Buffalo News, but that was before advancements in LED lighting that a major league team might require.
There are two other Class AA parks in upstate New York, in Rochester and Syracuse, and the Blue Jays’ Class AA team plays in Manchester, N.H., in a state that has never hosted a major league game. The closest major league facility to Toronto is Comerica Park in Detroit — though the Tigers, of course, will be playing games there.
Asking the Blue Jays to play all 60 games on the road would seem impractical, especially considering the health risks of so much extra travel. If Buffalo becomes their temporary home, it would give the state of New York three home teams — for one mini-season, anyway — for the first time since 1957, when the Giants and the Dodgers fled to California and left the Yankees alone in New York.
The Coming Pandemic Documentary
Teams have been forced out of their home ballparks before. Miller Park in Milwaukee was a temporary home for the Cleveland Indians in 2007 and the Houston Astros in 2008 because of weather conditions in those cities.
In 1991, the Montreal Expos shifted their final 13 home games to opponents’ parks after a 55-ton chunk of concrete fell at Olympic Stadium. Three years later, the Seattle Mariners ended their season with a 20-game road trip after ceiling tiles fell from the Kingdome roof. In 1998, the Yankees moved a home game to Shea Stadium after a concrete-and-steel beam fell into the loge-level seats at Yankee Stadium before a game with the Angels.
Buffalo had a National League franchise, the Bisons, from 1879 through 1885, with the Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin the team’s biggest star. To signify how much baseball has changed since then, consider that Galvin won 46 games while pitching more than 600 innings in 1883 — and then did it again the next year.