MLB's Toronto Blue Jays looking for new home after Canada rejects plan to use Rogers Centre

SHOWS:

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA (FILE) (CBC - Broadcaster and Digital: NO USE CANADA)

1. EXTERIOR OF ROGERS CENTRE WHERE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL'S TORONTO BLUE JAYS ARE TRAINING FOR UPCOMING SEASON AND NORMALLY PLAY THEIR HOME GAMES

2. WIDE OF ROGERS CENTRE SIGN ON SIDE OF STADIUM

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA (JULY 18, 2020) (CBC - Broadcaster and Digital: NO USE CANADA)

3. CANADIAN IMMIGRATION MINISTER MARCO MENDICINO WEBCAM INTERVIEW

4. (SOUNDBITE)(English) CANADIAN IMMIGRATION MINISTER MARCO MENDICINO, SAYING:

"Well this was a decision that was very carefully taken and was driven by two principal factors. First, the best available advice that we received from the Public Health Agency of Canada about the health risks to Canadians were we to allow regular season games to be played in Toronto, which as you already heard, contemplated repeated cross-border travel and second, the current travel restrictions at the Canada/U.S. border, which were mutually agreed by both of our countries, and were recently extended for another 30 days until August 21, 2020, so throughout this process we worked very closely with the MLB (Major League Baseball), the Toronto Blue Jays, and with other levels of government, we were able to make the preseason training component of the season work because, as was pointed out, there was no cross-border travel and they were essentially hubbed and isolated at the Rogers Centre, but having regards to the current state of affairs and the fact that the regular season proposal would require a lot of cross-border travel the advice that we got was that there were serious risks that remained and therefore we concluded that there was not a principal basis in which to issue and National Interest Exemption. And the last thing I'll say is, look I get it, I'm a lifelong Jays fan, I remember being at the Rogers Centre, what was then called the SkyDome, in 1992 when we won that first World Series and I remember being on front porches when I heard the crowd roar when Joey Bats (Jose Bautista) did the bat flip, and so I get it as a fan, but we're not taking decisions as fans, we're taking decisions on the basis of evidence on the advice that we received to protect the health and safety of all Canadians."

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA (FILE) (CBC - Broadcaster and Digital: NO USE CANADA)

5. BLUE JAYS LOGO ON SIDE OF ROGERS CENTRE

6. BLUE JAYS SIGN AT ROGERS CENTRE

7. CLOSED TICKET SALES WINDOWS AT ROGERS CENTRE

STORY: The Toronto Blue Jays will have to find a new home this season after the Canadian federal government on Saturday (July 18) rejected a plan by the Major League Baseball team to use the Rogers Centre over fears of spreading the novel coronavirus.

The Blue Jays have been under strict quarantine while holding a training camp at their home stadium ahead of the restart of the MLB season on July 23.

The team had been hoping to secure an exemption from travel quarantine rules that would allow them to play at the Rogers Centre.

Last week the federal government extended the closure of the Canada/U.S. border to non-essential travel until Aug. 21.

Anyone entering Canada must self-isolate for 14 days.

Under such restrictions it would be impossible for the Blue Jays to cross into the U.S. and return home and opposing teams to enter Canada for games without government and public health approval.

Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a statement that the team supported the government's decision.

"From the onset of the discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community - our fans - and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government's decision," he said.

Both municipal and provincial governments had already given approval to the Blue Jays proposal but the federal government turned down the plan as cases of COVID-19 soar in the United States.

With their home opener set for July 29 the Blue Jays will now have just 10 days to find a new home.

Options, however, are limited with the team's spring training base in Dunedin, Florida and Buffalo, home of the club's Triple A minor league affiliate the leading candidates.

Shapiro said that the team was in the process of finalising the best home location for the remainder of the 2020 season.

(Production: David Grip)

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