It's official. Because of security concerns at the G20 Summit in Toronto, the Blue Jays-Phillies series on the weekend of June 25 is being moved south of the border to Citizens Bank Park in south Philadelphia
The Blue Jays will still be listed as the home team and the DH rule will stay intact. Revenues will be split between the two teams — hey, those lights at CBP aren't free — and they're working out the details of the ticket sales for that weekend.
This is obviously a bum deal for the Blue Jays and their fans. The return of Roy Halladay(notes) to Rogers Centre made this the most-anticipated series of the season for Toronto and the fan infusion would have helped out the Blue Jays' attendance, which currently ranks second to last. That their team — which could still be in contention — will now have to play an additional three games in front of a hostile crowd should not sit well with Jays fans.
Yet the truth is that Major League Baseball didn't have many options after it made the big blunder of trying to resolve the conflict in the offseason. The G20 was announced on Dec. 7, 2009; the Blue Jays' schedule came out three-months earlier. Still, there was plenty of time to juggle things around to ensure the Blue Jays would have 81 home dates.
But what's done is done and since the league is mainly in the business of selling seats and putting a product that fans want to see in front of the fans who want to see it, the prospect of three straight sellouts of 45,000+ in Philadelphia is predictably going to trump any other options. (For whatever it's worth, Jays president Paul Beeston said he projected a total of only 90,000 fans in Toronto for the three-game series, but that this move was not made for financial reasons.)
• Chicago's Wrigley Field: On any other weekend, I think the Friendly Confines would have worked the best. There would have been enough advance notice for both Jays and Phillies fans to make a weekend of the novelty and, with enough marketing, the rest of the seats would have easily been sold to the Chicagoans and tourists who fill Wrigley every other weekend of the summer. The only problem is that June 25-27 also features the Cubs-White Sox series at U.S. Cellular Field and baseball can't really pitch a big tent in the backyard of one of its premier interleague matchups.
• New York's Yankee Stadium: The Bronx will be empty that day with the Yankees playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles, but what self-respecting Yankees fan is going to show up and cheer on the Blue Jays? Can't imagine the Wilpons would be happy with this move, either, since the Mets are hosting the Twins over in Queens that day.
• Washington's Nationals Park and Cleveland's Progressive Park: With local rivalry games (Orioles and Reds) slated somewhat nearby for that day, the Nationals and Indians have similar issues as the Cubs-White Sox. Plus they don't normally draw well when their actual teams are at home.
• Pittsburgh's PNC Park and Detroit's Comerica Park: If you're an angry Jays fan, here are the two options that baseball doesn't really have an excuse for not considering. I don't think many fans would've shown up, but if you're not concerned with watching a game played before more empty seats than there are at Rogers Centre, they would have worked out just fine.
• Montreal's Olympic Stadium: I have no idea what game-hosting condition Olympic Stadium is in, but I've seen this suggestion floated several times on Twitter. It's intriguing, though Bud Selig would never return to Montreal after fleeing it like it were on fire in 2004.
In a perfect world, Milwaukee would have been a fine choice. Miller Park drew a decent and hospitable crowd when the snowed-out Indians played the Angels there in 2007 and Carlos Zambrano(notes) tossed his no-hitter in Brewer territory when Hurricane Ike drove the Astros and Cubs to Wisconsin. Alas, the Brewers are home that weekend against the Mariners. A weekend full of doubleheaders would have been neat, though the area's famed collective blood-alcohol level might not have even been able to survive it.
Where would you have moved the Phillies-Blue Jays?