BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo baseball fans hoping to attend as many Toronto Blue Jays games as possible at Sahlen Field should be keeping a close eye on what’s happening at the border between the United States and Canada.
The border is currently shut down to non-essential traffic, and Jays CEO Mark Shapiro says the situation presents “significant challenges” for a club trying to figure out how to return home.
“That is not an easy thing to do,” Shapiro said Tuesday. “It’s not impossible. But it’s not an easy thing to do.”
Shapiro added that it would take 3-4 weeks for the Jays to physically return to Toronto once they get the OK from the government.
The Blue Jays played their first game at Sahlen Field in 2021 on Tuesday night, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1 in front of 5,321 fans. For the time being, they are scheduled to play home games in Buffalo through July 4.
Jamie Fiegel, a Buffalo immigration attorney who lives in Southern Ontario, says there is “a huge sentiment” among Ontario residents to get the border back open. It is currently closed through June 21st, although the shut down has been extended on a month by month basis.
“People are seeing how the U.S. is handling the pandemic and how they’re reopening,” Fiegel said. “I feel like it’s giving Canadians a sense of anxiety and anxiousness.”
Fiegel suggested the quarantine requirements for international travelers are the biggest issue for the Blue Jays, who are the only of the 30 MLB teams to make a home in Canada.
“If they lifted the Quarantine Act, I believe that would eliminate 90% of the issues that they have,” she said. “But then they would have to look at, ‘What if Canadians can’t come to watch them.”
Shapiro also addressed that on Tuesday.
“We want to get home,” the club’s president said. “I think that that’s the overarching feeling. The desire to get back to Toronto would be one that we’d feel really good about. But it’s hard to answer that hypothetical because there’s been no reason to have that dialogue with our players yet.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.