The Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition baseball game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition baseball game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

UPDATE: Pennsylvania won’t allow Toronto Blue Jays to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh

Canada already denied Jays’ request to play 2020 MLB home games Toronto

TORONTO – The state of Pennsylvania won’t allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh amid the coronavirus pandemic, health officials announced Wednesday, becoming the latest jurisdiction to say no to the team as the baseball season begins this week.

Canada already denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto because the regular-season schedule would require frequent travel back and forth from the United States, where COVID-19 cases are surging.

The Blue Jays and Pirates had been waiting to see if they got permission from the state to proceed with the plan to have PNC Park fill in for the Rogers Centre.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, said in a statement. “To add travellers 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.”

READ MORE: Blue Jays can’t play home games in Toronto after federal government rebuffs plan

Canada has flattened the epidemic curve. But the number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus reported daily by Allegheny County which includes Pittsburgh and 1.2 million residents – has increased tenfold in the last two weeks, compared with the two weeks in June before what officials there called an alarming spike in cases.

Health officials have blamed the spread primarily on bars and restaurants that were ignoring social-distancing orders, as well as residents returning from travel to virus hot spots. To clamp down on the spread, health officials have issued a cascade of orders shutting down bars and restaurants, curtailing dine-in service and recommending that people returning from certain states self-isolate at home for 14 days.

The agreement to share the stadium with the Pirates was pending state approval, according to two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity earlier Wednesday because they were not authorized to speak ahead of the government decision.

Pirates President Travis Williams previously confirmed the talks to host the Blue Jays and sounded ready to welcome them if it could be done safely. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he was excited about the PNC Park option and Pirates manager Derek Shelton said he would have no problem with the Blue Jays moving in.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said this week his team has more than five contingency plans for a home stadium and was in talks with other teams. He declined to name them.

Atkins said if the Blue Jays can’t find a major league park, their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, New York, would be their most likely site for home games. But based on what the players want and the collaboration they are getting from other teams and Major League Baseball, Atkins said the Blue Jays are focused on major league parks, as long as they can be safe. He said health and safety is the priority, so the ability to be socially distant without comprising other teams’ ability to maintain socially distance is important.

Toronto begins the season at Tampa Bay on Friday and is scheduled to play its first home game on July 29 against defending champion Washington. The players have said they strongly prefer to play in a major league park.

The team had been considering playing home games at its training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but that is among the states that are virus hot spots.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

MLBToronto

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Most Read