BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins square off on August 11th, the lights will shine on Sahlen Field like they never have before, both figuratively and literally. Yes, new bulbs are being installed in the fixtures high above the field. But the stadium is also about to receive national notoriety.
“They’re kind of using Buffalo and Sahlen Field as a television studio,” said Jeff Ventura, associate athletic director at Buffalo State.
“I think the way baseball is shot, it should show pretty well,” he added. “There aren’t a whole lot of shots where you’re getting the whole stadium. Certainly, the outfield looks a little bit different. You’ll be able to tell it’s not a typical big league ballpark. But it should show well on television.”
The Blue Jays are playing 25 home games at Sahlen Field this year after they were unable to receive permission from the government to play in Toronto. The first game at the ballpark is the Marlins game on the 11th.
One of the 25 games, the August 14th matchup between Toronto and the Tampa Bay Rays, is scheduled to be shown across the country on national television. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
“I do think that there is a large faction of Buffalo that looks forward to seeing our stadium on a national television broadcast,” said Ventura, who also teaches sports public relations and marketing classes.
As much as it is an opportunity for Buffalo and Sahlen Field, Ventura points out this unusual circumstance is also an opportunity for the Blue Jays. They have a chance to pick up some extra fans, he says.
“I think there could be a lost opportunity for the Blue Jays if they didn’t try to co-brand the team with Buffalo this year,” he said. “Toronto is in such a unique market compared to the smaller markets. They don’t need us because of the corporate dollars. But they have a lot of empty seats in their stadium as well.”
At least one Buffalonian has already adopted the Blue Jays as his 2020 team. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who is a Dodgers fan, dressed up in a Blue Jays jersey and cap the day the team announced they were coming to Buffalo last month.
“It’s not like we’re going to be able to go down there and watch the games. But there’s some pride,” Poloncarz said.
The Jays have already reached out to Buffalo in at least one way. Last week, the club announced they were giving fans the opportunity to purchase cutouts of themselves to be placed in the Sahlen Field seats during games. A team official says they gave Buffalo Bisons season ticket holders a pre-sale option.
The Bisons are the AAA farm team of the Blue Jays.
“I think you want to make those Bisons season ticket holders feel vested in the product, even if they can’t be in the stadium themselves,” Ventura said.
The Jays have already sold out of cutout options.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.