Phillies rumor: Club to play 5% of 2020 schedule in Buffalo?

The Phillies might have another road trip to the state of New York this season

Exactly half of the Philadelphia Phillies’ 60-game schedule will be played at Citizens Bank Park, and the other half, as usual in a normal 162-game slate, on the road.

Of those 30 road contests, 20 percent are currently scheduled to be played in the state of New York — July 29-30 at Yankees, and September 4-7 at Mets. Now, with uncertainty surrounding where the Toronto Blue Jays will play their home games in 2020, that percentage of Phillies road games being played in the Empire State could soon rise to 30 percent.

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The Phillies could have their three July 31 through August 2 road games against the Blue Jays moved to the team’s Triple-A affiliate’s stadium in Buffalo due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian health officials gave the Blue Jays clearance to hold summer camp at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, but not yet to hold regular-season games; players are currently being asked to spend 14 days in quarantine every time they enter the country. With the 2020 season only spanning 66 days, that is not a possibility. Therefore, according to The Buffalo News, the Blue Jays have recently reached out to their Triple-A affiliate to “examine the possibility of Toronto’s home schedule being played in Buffalo this summer.”

UPDATE, 7/18: The Blue Jays have been denied approval from the Canadian government to play at the Rogers Centre in Toronto for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Now, the Blue Jays must decide between Buffalo or their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida.

If this comes to fruition, five percent of the Phillies’ overall 2020 slate would be played in a city they never played before for regular season contests.

This would not be the first time a scheduled Phillies-Blue Jays series in Toronto was relocated. One decade ago, in June 2010, then-Commissioner Bud Selig relocated their interleague series to Philadelphia due to the security concerns surrounding the G20 Summit.

There are some challenges if Blue Jays home games are relocated to Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo, however. While there are several nearby hotels and the stadium’s field is of major-league quality, its lighting is not.

The Bisons installed a new lighting system nine years ago for nearly $1 million, according to The Buffalo News, however that was before “current technological standard of LED lighting for stadiums became prevalent.”

“It is fine for Triple-A games but would need an upgrade for the major leagues – and for the accompanying television broadcasts, with 24 of the Blue Jays’ 30 home games scheduled at night. With less than three weeks to the home opener, a fast-tracked upgrade may not be possible.”

Also, The Buffalo News notes space would be tight, especially clubhouses, training and workout rooms, umpires quarters, the press box, and batting cages, but having not fans would allow them to use concourse areas and suites to space out.

A plan “C” that the Blue Jays could consider is playing at their newly renovated TD Ballpark spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida. But, with COVID-19 cases on the rise in the state, does Major League Baseball want to take that risk?

The Blue Jays’ home opener is scheduled for July 29 against the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals. They will have to soon decide one way or another where they will play their home games in 2020.