Without hub city approach, Blue Jays face challenge to play in Toronto
Cohort quarantine concept used for NHL wouldn't apply to MLB return plan
With Major League Baseball not currently proposing a hub-city model for a potential 2020 season, the Toronto Blue Jays may be forced to find a venue outside Canada to play home games.
When asked about the Blue Jays training or playing games in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada's chief public health officer did not raise the possibility of waiving quarantine rules.
"When [the players] come back to training, they are subjected to the 14 days of quarantine. ... As the teams coalesce and come together, there are the concepts of cohorting and group quarantine whereby the players have to remain together and pose no risk to themselves or surrounding population so that's the concept," Dr. Theresa Tam said.
Canada has waived the 14-day quarantine for Vancouver, Edmonton or Toronto being a potential NHL hub city, agreeing to a cohort quarantine where teams stay in an essential bubble during the Stanley Cup tournament.
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With teams entering and exiting Canada regularly during a baseball season without fans, the NHL approach would be impossible to duplicate.
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday night it will have a 60-game regular season that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks. Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
But there was no announcement of the schedule.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said he has not received a specific proposal for games in Canada from MLB.
"The Major League Baseball proposal [for a season], I've seen it and read it, it deals with a lot of aspects there," he said. "It doesn't mention anything about travel to Canada at this time, so if there was some interest in that we'd have to get a proposal from them to see how they would undertake the uniqueness of bringing the team, and if they've thought about bringing other teams up into here to play how they would work with that up until such time as the federal government reduces or eliminates their quarantine law, but that's still in place at this time.
Dunedin, Fla., the Blue Jays' spring-training home, and Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, both have been mentioned as potential home venues for Canada's lone major-league team in reports.
"The regular season locale is still a work in progress. That's all we can say at this time," Blue Jays spokesman Richard Griffin said.
Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro said he will not provide an update until the schedule is firm and MLB is moving forward. Shapiro has been lobbying the federal government and was added to the federal lobbyist registry last week.
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Given the need for three days of virus testing and 21 days of workouts, opening day likely would be during the final week of July.
The Blue Jays have not said whether they will train in Toronto or elsewhere.
The Toronto Raptors, Canada's lone NBA team, are in Fort Myers, Fla., to resume training ahead of the league's restart in Orlando next month.