05/11/10 7:23 PM ET
Jays' set vs. Phillies moved to Philadelphia
Interleague series from June 25-27 shifted due to G20 Summit
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
On June 26-27, many of the world's financial and political leaders will convene in downtown Toronto at the Metro Convention Center -- just steps away from the Blue Jays' home at Rogers Centre. The club was originally scheduled to host the Phillies the same weekend, beginning on June 25.
Considering the close proximity of the two sites, the Blue Jays consulted with the G20 organizers and decided that moving the baseball games to a different location offered the best solution. It is a series that was expected to draw a large crowd in Toronto, given that it would have marked the return of former Jays ace Roy Halladay, who was traded to the Phillies in December.
"We regret we had to make this decision," Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston said. "But given what's happening on those three days, and the focus that will be on the downtown core of Toronto, and the fact that we are situated right next door to them, where the G20 is going to take place, we felt it was in the best interest of everybody to move the games.
"It's particularly disappointing, for very obvious reasons, with Roy Halladay coming back. Roy, who had been with the organization for as long as he'd been here, it was our opportunity for the fans and for ourselves to give him the appreciation for what he had done and what he had meant to this team."
Beeston said that the Blue Jays will put in a request with Major League Baseball to host the Phillies in Toronto as part of Interleague Play in 2011. If the series is scheduled as Beeston hopes, that will give Toronto a chance to honor Halladay during his first trip north of the border since parting ways with the organization.
Major League Baseball approved the series relocation after discussing the situation with the Blue Jays, the Phillies, the G20 Summit Management, the Integrated Security Unit and the city of Toronto.
"After reviewing all of the options with the parties and taking all of the security considerations into account, it was determined that the best course of action is to play the series in Philadelphia," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I appreciate the cooperation of the Blue Jays, the Phillies and all of the parties who have helped resolve this challenging situation."
While the games will take place on the road, they will still be considered "home" contests for the Blue Jays. The designated hitter will be utilized, and Toronto will have the last at-bat in each of the games. The June 25 game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET and the June 27 contest will begin at 1:35 p.m. The time of the June 26 game has not been finalized.
Beeston noted that the Jays and Phillies have a financial agreement to share the revenue generated from the series at Citizens Bank Park.
"This wasn't a negotiation," Beeston said. "The Phillies are terrific people to deal with. We were fortunate that we were playing the Phillies at this time, so we could sit down with [Phillies president and CEO] Dave Montgomery. I've had a number of conversations with him, starting back when it was first announced.
"As it became a little bit more definitive that it was happening, we kept him informed as to what was happening. He's got costs of putting on the games, so we've worked out an arrangement that hopefully will make us both revenue neutral."
Beeston, who emphasized that the relocation was ultimately the Blue Jays' decision, said the teams discussed shifting the series to Cleveland's Progressive Field or Detroit's Comerica Park. At the end of the day, though, moving to a neutral site was never a serious part of the discussions.
"No, it really wasn't considered," Beeston said. "I guess that was an option, whether we'd go to Cleveland or whether we'd go to Detroit or whether we'd go up to Ottawa and play in one of those places. At the very conclusion of all our deliberations, the easiest was just to go to Philadelphia."
According to Beeston, another alternative was to play a doubleheader in Toronto on June 25 with a night game on June 26, creating an off-day on June 27 to help account for the G20 activities. Beeston said there were still too many unknowns to go through with that proposed plan.
Beeston said the Blue Jays, whose home attendance average of 15,208 ranked 29th in baseball as of Monday, were expecting to draw around 90,000 fans for the three-game set in Toronto -- possibly more if Halladay were scheduled to pitch. There was also the possibility that the G20 might have taken a toll on the attendance, though.
The Rogers Centre falls within the "outer security perimeter" for the G20 Summit. There will be multiple road closures, temporary fencing put up and limited parking. Fans coming from Toronto's Union Station would have to take a long detour just to make it to the ballpark. It was a logistical mess that warranted an alternative.
"It really wasn't fair to our fans," Beeston said. "As they close off the perimeter for the downtown to make the G20 as successful as we want it all to be, that's going to make it more difficult for our fans to get here. ... I hope that the fans understand that we did it in their best interest.
"We made it so they didn't have to buy tickets and then had to come down here and fight the traffic, fight the barriers, fight the parking. We would hope that they would consider it to be something that we took with their interest at heart. That's effectively what we did.
"No one forced us to move."
All Blue Jays season-ticket holders are eligible for a full refund on their tickets and one free ticket voucher for each ticket refunded for any upcoming home game during the 2010 regular season. Toronto's season-ticket holders will also have access to purchase tickets in Philadelphia for the relocated series.
"What you paid, you will get your money back," Beeston said. "In addition to that, we will give you a ticket for any game we're playing this year."
Tickets sold through the Blue Jays will be refunded by the club. Purchases made with credit cards will be reimbursed for the full amount, including any service charges. Customers who purchased tickets via cash or debit or gift cards will be issued refund checks for the initial purchase price of the tickets and service charges after returning the tickets in person at the club's box office or by registered mail.
Customers who want to submit their tickets by mail must include a valid mailing address and phone number. Refunds are expected to be issued within four to six weeks following receipt of tickets. Any tickets sent by registered mail should be addressed to Ticket Department, Toronto Blue Jays, 1 Blue Jays Way, Suite 3200, Toronto, ON, M5V 1J1.
Any customers who bought tickets with a check will be issued a refund check for the same amount. Fans who purchased tickets through a third party ticket seller such as StubHub, TicketNow or similar services must contact the organization used to obtain the tickets. The Jays are not responsible for refunds for those tickets.
More information regarding ticket refunds is available by calling 416-341-1234 or visiting bluejays.com.
"It was a big weekend for us," Beeston said. "So not having them here, not having the Phillies here, is difficult. It's not something that you sit back and say, 'Well, so what?' There is a big deal to this. It's a big deal. I mean, the fact of the matter is the Phillies won't be here.
"Could we have waited to see how it was going to go? I supposed we could, but I could also argue that we've waited too long right now and we would've been better off if we announced it some time in the middle of April. So, yeah, we're disappointed. I think the whole organization is."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.