The coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of incongruity to sports, from an N.B.A. season at Disney World to a Kentucky Derby scheduled for September.
Now, get ready for the Buffalo Blue Jays in Major League Baseball.
With the Canadian government barring games at the team’s home stadium, the Rogers Center in Toronto, the major leagues’ only team outside the United States will make Sahlen Field in Buffalo its main home for the abbreviated 2020 season. The team said on Friday that it would play “the greater part of its home schedule” in Buffalo but did not specify what other sites might be used.
The M.L.B. season began on Thursday night. The Blue Jays are scheduled to play their first game on Friday, on the road in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Baseball is playing its season in home stadiums, but without fans, to try to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. Nevertheless, Marco Mendicino, Canada’s immigration minister, ruled against holding games in his country because of all the border crossings it would require from the Blue Jays and their opponents — particularly teams based in states with high rates of infection.
“Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for M.L.B. regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety,” Mendicino said.
Buffalo is the home of the Blue Jays’ Class AAA affiliate, the Bisons, who like most other minor league teams will not play at all this season. Sahlen Field can accommodate 16,000 fans, though all of its seats will be empty this year.
That will put three major league teams in New York — at least temporarily — for the first time since 1957, when the Dodgers, the Giants and the Yankees all played in the state.
Earlier this week it had been widely reported that the Blue Jays would play their games in Pittsburgh, sharing PNC Park with the Pirates, and some of the team’s players had expressed a preference for playing in a major league stadium. But Pennsylvania health officials would not give permission.
“To add travelers to this region for any reason, including for professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health.
Camden Yards in Baltimore and the Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., were also reportedly considered.
The Blue Jays have their first home game scheduled for 6:37 p.m. on July 29 against the Washington Nationals. Toronto won only 67 games last season; it last made the playoffs in 2016.
It is not the first time Buffalo has been home to a major league team. From 1879 to 1885, the Bisons played in the National League, and also had brief stretches in the short-lived Players League and Federal League, which both are considered to have had major-league status.