Toronto Blue Jays denied permission to play at Pittsburgh Pirates' PNC Park

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays planned to share Pittsburgh's PNC Park for home games during the 2020 MLB season. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays planned to share Pittsburgh's PNC Park for home games during the 2020 MLB season. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

July 22 (UPI) -- The Toronto Blue Jays will not be allowed to play at the Pittsburgh Pirates' PNC Park this season amid the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania health officials announced Wednesday.

"In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania," the state's Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, said in a statement. "To add travelers to this region for any reason, including for professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams.


"We know that this virus does not discriminate, and can even make professional athletes very sick. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians."

Earlier Wednesday, the Blue Jays reportedly reached an agreement with the Pirates to share PNC Park for home games in 2020. The clubs were awaiting permission from state officials to proceed with the plan.


Pirates President Travis Williams said the franchise worked closely with city officials to come up with a proposal for the state to review. The state opted to pass.

"I am extremely proud of our staff's effort, together with the support of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, to very quickly present Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays with an option to host their home games here at PNC Park during the 2020 season," Williams said in a statement.

"This is an unprecedented situation and, therefore, we understand and support Governor Tom Wolf's decision. We are in agreement that the safety and health of those in our region must remain paramount. We are confident that the great people within the Blue Jays organization, working with Major League Baseball, will secure another option very soon."

The Blue Jays were forced to look for another major league ballpark to play at after Canada's government on Saturday said the team couldn't play home games at Rogers Centre in Toronto amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Canada denied the Blue Jays' request to play at Rogers Centre due to the team's frequent need to travel between the United States and Canada to play games against other MLB clubs amid the coronavirus' surge in the United States.


On Monday, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the club has more than five contingency plans and was in active talks with other teams if the plan with the Pirates fell apart.

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. According to ESPN, Toronto also could play a 60-game road trip and act as the home team in certain matchups.

The Blue Jays played a summer camp game against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday in Boston and had another preseason clash against the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

The Blue Jays will start the regular season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays at 6:40 p.m. EDT Friday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Toronto's home opener is set for July 29 against the World Series champion Washington Nationals.

Baseball kicks off with preseason training

Kansas City Royals batter Alex Gordon connects for a sacrifice RBI during an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 22. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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