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Pirates offer use of PNC Park to Blue Jays

@KeeganMatheson
July 20, 2020

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays continue to search for a new home in 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates have offered their support and use of PNC Park, should Major League Baseball and the two teams be able to make it work logistically. “In an effort to help in the return

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays continue to search for a new home in 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates have offered their support and use of PNC Park, should Major League Baseball and the two teams be able to make it work logistically.

“In an effort to help in the return of the game we all love, we continue to have active discussions with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays organization regarding the possibility of hosting home games for the Blue Jays at PNC Park this season. This will be a monumental challenge for our staff, but leaning in to help others is what Pittsburghers do best,” Pirates president Travis Williams said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier in this process, before the Blue Jays chose to narrow their initial focus to Toronto or their Spring Training site in Dunedin, Fla., the Blue Jays were offered help from the Tampa Bay Rays as well.

There would be many factors involved with this process, and the Blue Jays are considering many options, but the Pirates further expressed their commitment to helping with these variables.

“If we are able to safely accommodate, not only will it bring additional international attention to our city, it will also bring with it jobs and revenue for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses that will support the Blue Jays organization as well as additional visiting teams,” the Pirates' statement read.

The Blue Jays' search for a new 2020 home is ongoing, and while the club and MLB have not set a hard deadline for a decision, the urgency is clear. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins says the team has “well over five solid contingency plans” in place, and those various plans cover a wide range of layouts.

One option remains Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., home of their Triple-A affiliate, the Bisons. That park would require supplemental lighting and the club would need to “reimagine” some of the physical space available to it. Should the Blue Jays call Buffalo home, their alternate training site would be in Rochester, N.Y., home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.

Other options include sharing a current Major League park with another team, like the Pirates at PNC Park, which comes with the added complications of tinkering the schedule to eliminate any overlap in home games. That would be the preference of many players, though, including reliever Anthony Bass, who said over the weekend that he’d already communicated that to Atkins.

“All things being equal, we would much rather be in a Major League facility,” Atkins said Monday. “We just have to weigh that with what that means in the world of a pandemic, with social distancing, sharing a facility, making sure we’re being safe as an organization and in no way compromising another organization. Those are the things that need to be worked through.”

The Blue Jays' schedule overlaps with the Pirates’ home schedule at certain points, which brings us to the third style of setup that Toronto could consider.

That solution is an openness to a hybrid between multiple home stadiums, such as being based in Pittsburgh, then using a nearby Minor League stadium for any games where there are scheduling conflicts. That doesn’t sound like a prioritized option, though, as Atkins said the club weighed that against simply staying on the road for any conflicting home games.

Manager Charlie Montoyo’s focus has been more on readying his players to adapt to their new surroundings -- wherever that might be -- and finding ways that they can quickly develop new routines. Pittsburgh’s support was welcome news, though, especially given Montoyo's wardrobe.

“That’s encouraging that they feel that way about us coming,” Montoyo said. “That’s just great news. Going to Pittsburgh, that’s a beautiful ballpark and I’ve got like 10 Roberto Clemente T-shirts already.”

Opening Day is on Friday for the Blue Jays, with their home opener scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.