The Buffalo Bisons announced Friday that they will open the 2021 season in Trenton, New Jersey while Sahlen Field undergoes a handful of upgrades in anticipation of the Toronto Blue Jays bringing MLB games back to the Queen City this summer.
The Blue Jays spent the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a closure of the Canada-U.S. border. With the virus still threatening, international travel remains uncertain. The Jays started this season playing home games at their spring training site in Dunedin, Florida.
“We very much enjoyed having the Blue Jays call the great city of Buffalo their home last season and the potential for doing so again, this time with fans, is an extremely exciting possibility. I applaud the Buffalo Bisons and Toronto Blue Jays organizations for privately funding these major improvements to our city’s ballpark so that Sahlen Field can continue to be a great community asset for many years to come,” Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said in a statement.
The renovations at the downtown ballpark are a "joint" project, according to the press release, with the Bisons and Blue Jays both chipping in. Upgrades include moving the bullpens off the field and behind outfield walls, new batting cages beyond right field, a new weight room and renovated clubhouse facilities, LED lightbulb replacements and two new, temporary lighting poles.
“After a nearly decade-long partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays, these Sahlen Field upgrades are a natural progression of our successful partnership. Sahlen Field is one of the oldest ballparks in all of Triple-A so these upgrades are essential for the long-term success of having high-quality baseball in Buffalo, NY for many years to come,” Mike Buczkowski, president of Rich Baseball Operations, said in the release. “We thank the Trenton Thunder organization for opening their doors and welcoming the Bisons so this renovation can be completed.”
The Herd's temporary home is run by the Trenton Thunder, who had been the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees prior to MLB's shuffling of its minor league system last year. The Bisons' home opener is scheduled for May 4 against the Worcester Red Sox. No date has been set for the Blue Jays' move to Buffalo.