The Blue Jays will leave their temporary regular-season home in Dunedin and shift their regular-season games to Buffalo, N.Y., starting in June.
The move was expected around that time, as the Jays were concerned about impact of the summer heat and rain playing outdoors in Florida.
There was a scenario where they could stay longer at their spring training base in Dunedin if they felt they could return to Toronto shorty thereafter — and thus avoid two moves — but pandemic restrictions in Canada and on cross-border travel make that unlikely.
Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski had initially hoped the team would stay longer but said Wednesday the small north Pinellas County city appreciated the chance to be in the big leagues.
“We are just so grateful that we had the opportunity to have regular-season games in our newly refurbished stadium for two months,” she said. “We greatly appreciate our partnership with the Jays and we were so happy to be able to help. This helped our local economy and our businesses and gave our residents something fun to do at a time when things weren’t always so fun.
“We wish them all the best and will be rooting for them from down here in Dunedin.”
In a press release announcing the move, the Jays said: “The club’s goal has always been to return to play on home soil as soon as it is safe to do so, and until then the team will play its home games at (Buffalo’s) Sahlen Field.
“The team is excited to return to the site of its strong 2020 campaign, this time with in-person cheers from Buffalo-area fans.”
The Jays’ final series at TD Ballpark in Dunedin will be May 21-24 against the Rays, which follows three-game series with the Phillies (May 14-16) and Red Sox (18-20).
The Jays are 7-4 in Dunedin, compared to 7-10 on the road through Tuesday, and are averaging 1,496 fans, working under pandemic restrictions that limit capacity to around 1,900.
The Jays played their home games last season in Buffalo, which is the site of the their Triple-A team. That team has been temporarily relocated this season to Trenton, N.J., and the Jays and Buffalo team are sharing in the costs to renovate Sahlen Field to be ready for major-league games starting June 1.
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