The Blue Jays are coming home to their familiar surroundings at Rogers Centre.
The young and highly entertaining team, led by freshly minted all-star game MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr., will be back in Toronto on July 30 after receiving a National Interest Exemption from the federal government.
It has been a long and arduous process for a team forced to play “home” games in Dunedin and Buffalo in the midst of a pandemic.
The Jays haven’t played a real home game since September of 2019.
When they play host to the Kansas City Royals, starting on July 30, it will mark the first game in Toronto in 670 days.
During that stretch, plenty has changed for a team that added pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu last off-season and George Springer this past off-season to mega free-agent deals.
The biggest change involves the emergence of Vlad Jr. into an MVP candidate and superstar.
“First and foremost, the Blue Jays wish to thank Canadians for their unprecedented public health efforts and support for the team,” the club said in a release.
“Without you, Blue Jays baseball would not be coming home this summer.
“In addition, the organization wishes to acknowledge Blue Jays staff and players for their tireless efforts and dedication during a franchise-defining chapter of team history, and whose resilience never wavered through immense challenges and times of uncertainty.”
The onset of COVID-19 forced the Jays and every other MLB team to shut down during spring training in 2020.
Later that year in July, the Jays were able to gather at their Summer Camp at Rogers Centre to prepare for a 60-game season, but eventually were denied permission to play their home games in Canada.
After exploring multiple options at other MLB parks, including Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the club settled down at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, site of the Jays’ triple-A affiliate.
The Jays finally will be back in Toronto.
When they last played a game at Rogers Centre, the Jays beat Tampa Bay 8-3 on Sept. 29, 2019.
Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement the decision to grant the exemption was made in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada and local and provincial officials.