Ontario premier says MLB approval to play in Toronto close

Mon Jun 29 2:25pm ET
By ROB GILLIES
Associated Press

Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays leaves a meeting session during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


TORONTO (AP) Major League Baseball is close to winning approval to play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic, the premier of Ontario said Monday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said city, provincial and federal authorities ''kind of gave their approval,'' but the Toronto Blue Jays are waiting for a letter of support from the federal government.

He also said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer, requires a few tweaks to MLB's submitted plan to play, which health authorities have been reviewing.

Ford said he has been in conversation with Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro all weekend.

He said the Blue Jays will arrive July 1 for training.

MLB requires an exemption, as anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days, and the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least July 21.

A senior Canadian government official said last week that if MLB submitted an acceptable restart plan to the government, an exemption letter similar to the one provided to the National Hockey League could be provided. The official spoke the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

MLB announced last week it will have a 60-game regular season that will start July 23 or 24 in ballparks without fans.

There has been talk the Blue Jays could play at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but several players and staff members of the Blue Jays tested positive for the coronavirus and the facility was shuttered.

The virus upended plans of many clubs to resume training at their Florida facilities due to a rise in cases in the state. Most teams intend to work out in their regular-season ballparks.

Federal and local health authorities in Canada have approved a plan for the NHL to play in either Toronto, Edmonton, Alberta, or Vancouver, British Columbia, but the plan does not involve travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada. That decision last week comes as the NHL enters the advanced stages of selecting its hub cities - most likely two - from a list of seven in the U.S. and three in Canada.

Top Headlines