The Pittsburgh Pirates play a practice game during summer workouts on July 10 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Major League Baseball will start its 2020 season this week after the coronavirus pandemic caused months of delays. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
July 20 (UPI) -- The Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates are discussing a plan to share PNC Park this season after Canada's government banned the Blue Jays from playing in their home stadium during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pirates president Travis Williams confirmed the discussions and appeared ready to welcome the Blue Jays to Pittsburgh.
"In an effort to help in the return of the game we all love, we continue to have active discussions with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays organization regarding the possibility of hosting home games for the Blue Jays at PNC Park this season," Williams said in a statement Monday.
"This will be a monumental challenge for our staff, but leaning in to help others is what Pittsburghers do best. If we are able to safely accommodate, not only will it bring additional international attention to our city, it will also bring with it jobs and revenue for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses that will support the Blue Jays organization as well as additional visiting teams."
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters it was "encouraging" to see the Pirates' statement.
"That's encouraging that they feel that way about us coming," Montoyo said Monday. "That's just great news. Going to Pittsburgh, that's a beautiful ballpark and I've got like 10 Roberto Clemente T-shirts already."
Former Blue Jays executives Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders are now with the Pirates in high-ranking roles. Cherington became the general manager of the Pirates after serving as Toronto's vice president of baseball operations, while Sanders moved from a scouting role with the Blue Jays to Pittsburgh's assistant general manager position.
Earlier Monday, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters his club has more than five contingency plans and was in active talks with other teams if discussions with the Pirates fall apart.
"We are focused on getting into a major league facility," Atkins said.
Canada on Saturday denied the Blue Jays' request to play at Rogers Centre due to the frequent travel associated with a MLB regular-season schedule. The team would need to travel back and forth from the United States, where coronavirus cases are surging.
Atkins said the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., would most likely serve as the club's site for home games if the team can't find a major league park.
The Blue Jays begin the 2020 season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. The team is scheduled to play their first home game July 29 against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.