DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – The Blue Jays now join the Raptors as another Toronto professional sports team relocating to Tampa Bay to play their home games– at least for the time being.
With the COVID-19 border restrictions preventing non-essential travelers from entering Canada, the team was forced to make other arrangements to be able to play the 2021 season.
TD Ballpark is where the Blue Jays hold spring training, so it was an easy decision to play their home games there. At this point, they are set to be based out of Dunedin through May, which totals 22 games.
“We had a couple games in spring (at TD Ballpark) but the intensity is just not the same as a real regular-season game,” said Blue Jays infielder, Marcus Semien. “I’m excited just to play some ball. It’s a place that we’re familiar with and hopefully, we can use that to our advantage. We’ll see how the lights are. I know they’re lower than most big league parks so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The Jays broke ground on renovations at TD Ballpark in the spring of 2019, which proved to be $100 million well spent. The project was completed in time for the start of spring training in 2020 and now they are getting to take full advantage of the stadium’s facelift. Part of the renovations included adding more seats, expanding their capacity from 5,500 to 8,500. With COVID-19 protocol, they will allow fans up to 15% capacity for their regular-season games, which is 1,275 seats. They are also still offering fans the option to buy a cardboard cut-out to have placed in the stands.
This now means that two teams in the American League East will be playing their home games– for at least the next 7 weeks– less than 25 miles apart. That will make for a nice, short road trip for the Rays and Blue Jays when they play each other for the first time in this season at the end of April and again at the end of May.
Last season, the Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, which means their home fan base in Toronto hasn’t seen their team play in-person at Rogers Centre since September 2019.