Blue Jays finally return to Rogers Centre to open three-game set with Royals


TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have wrapped up an extended road trip down south and finally flown north — back home to Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays are finally set to return to Toronto after the federal government granted the club a national interest travel exemption, and the team will host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night in their first game at their home stadium in nearly two years.

The Jays haven’t played at Rogers Centre since Sept. 29, 2019 — an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay — due to COVID-19 restrictions that included a U.S.-Canada travel ban.

Toronto played the shortened 2020 campaign at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., then began this season hosting home games at its spring training site in Dunedin, Fla., before returning to the home of their triple-A affiliate in June.

Jays president Mark Shapiro says the team has also received approval to treat the stadium as an outdoor venue and allow up to 15,000 fans at games — about 30 per cent of its 49,286-person capacity. Shapiro says the retractable roof will be open as long as the weather allows, and additional measures have been taken to ensure proper ventilation.

The Jays currently sit fourth in the American League East with a 51-48 record.

Before Friday’s first pitch is the MLB trade deadline, with a 4 p.m. ET cutoff for teams to make a trade in a push for the post-season.

Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement on July 16 that the decision to grant the exemption was made in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada and local and provincial officials.