Modified: August 12, 2020 1:02pm
Today, County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein participated in a video conference with Dr. Gary Green, Medical Director for Major League Baseball (MLB), Jon Coyles, Vice President for Health and Safety for MLB, Patrick Houlihan, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Labor Relations, for MLB, Anuk Karunaratne, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Operations, for the Toronto Blue Jays, Jonathan Dandes, Corporate Vice President of Governmental Relations and Special Products for Rich Products and Mike Buczkowski, President of Rich Baseball Operations to discuss the protocols and safety measures that will be in effect for all Toronto Blue Jays’ games to be played at Sahlen Field and for all teams visiting our area, including the Blue Jays.
Included in the discussions were the actions that will be taken by all teams visiting our region, including daily testing; travel to and from (1) arrival at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNIA), (2) hotels, (3) Sahlen Field, and (4) departure from the region through BNIA; review of the MLB amended 2020 Operations Manual; protocols to be used by hotels where teams play; and actions to be taken by teams to ensure the safety of their traveling party and the general public. It was confirmed by MLB representatives that players, coaches, and all other visiting team staff will not be allowed to leave their hotel except to go by bus to Sahlen Field or the airport, and, with the exception of team congregate dining purposes within the hotel, may not leave their hotel rooms.
It was also confirmed that all teams traveling from a state with significant rates of COVID-19 transmission, will be subject to the New York State Department of Health “Interim Guidance for Professional Sports Teams Traveling Between States with Significant Community Spread of COVID-19 and New York State” issued on June 28, 2020, including the Blue Jays or any other team, including New York based teams such as the New York Yankees and New York Mets, traveling to Buffalo from another state.
Additionally, it was agreed upon that MLB would follow any additional health and safety orders as issued by the Erie County Health Department and County Executive’s Office through an emergency executive order, and that MLB would provide to the Health Department any requested health, safety and other information necessary to ensure the safety of the general public.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz stated, “I thank the representatives from Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays, Rich Products and the Buffalo Bisons for discussing with us today their plans for playing games at Sahlen Field and off-field operations to ensure the health and safety of not only their teams but our public. Based on our conversation and the protocols put in place, it is apparent to me MLB is taking extremely serious the safety of all, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak occurred with the Miami Marlins. They sincerely heard our concerns and agreed to every request we made, including adherence by all teams to my future issuance of an executive order regarding team travel and hotel stays to and from our region and working with the Health Department to ensure the safety of all.”
Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein added, “We applaud Major League Baseball’s (MLB) focus on practicing robust public health measures to ensure that team players and the community remain healthy and safe. County Executive Poloncarz and I left the meeting feeling confident that strong safeguards are in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission among the players or in our community.”