DUNEDIN — The city of Dunedin has been gearing up for Blue Jays’ spring training to start soon. Now, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the city will prepare for regular-season baseball as well.
The Toronto Blue Jays announced this morning that the team will play its first two homestands of the season at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, marking the first time the city will host regular-season games.
“Like all Canadians, we had hoped to see improvements in the public health outlook as we neared the 2021 baseball season,” said a statement from the team. “With the ongoing Canada-U.S. border closure, we have made the difficult decision to play the first two homestands of the 2021 regular season (through May 2) at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, with the hopes of a return to play at Rogers Centre as soon as possible."
The Blue Jays’ regular season home opener will be April 8 against the Los Angeles Angels.
“OMG!” Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski wrote on her Facebook page. “Dunedin will have regular season baseball for the first time in our history! What an honor!”
The team’s minor league affiliate that calls Dunedin home was also happy to share the news.
“The Dunedin Blue Jays are excited to be a temporary home for the Toronto Blue Jays, and we look forward to continuing to be a part of the club’s pursuit to bringing World Championships back to Canada,” a statement from the team read.
It added that the Low-A team is working closely with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays on how this will affect the minor league season at TD Ballpark.
It's unclear how long the Blue Jays will be playing in Dunedin.
Spring training will come first, however, as the team ramps up for its Sunday, Feb. 28 opener against the New York Yankees. The team’s first home game will be Monday, March 1, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
COVID-19 will mean a different kind of spring training, though, as TD Ballpark is expected to allow 15% capacity, or about 1,000 people, per game.
Continue to check in at TBNweekly.com for more coverage about spring training in Pinellas County.