Argos' Oct. 6 game moved to Ottawa thanks to Blue Jays: just the first of many?

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The Blue Jays' success might force the Argos to move home games away from the Rogers Centre. (Wikipedia.)
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The Toronto Argonauts' October and November home games this season have been under threat for some time thanks to the Blue Jays' push for the MLB playoffs and the likely scheduling conflicts created there, but we've now seen the first game actually moved from the Rogers Centre, and it's been moved in highly undesirable fashion. The team's moving its Oct. 6 game against the Redblacks to Ottawa, which not only turns a home game into a road game, but also creates over four hours of driving each way for Toronto fans wishing to attend (as compared to the Argos' first-considered option, Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field, which is less than an hour away). What's even more concerning, though, is that the Oct. 6 game might just be the first of many moved.

The Canadian Press notes that the Argos' home games on Oct. 17 (against Calgary) and Oct. 23 (versus Montreal) are also under threat "should the Blue Jays reach the World Series," but that's not quite correct, as the World Series isn't set to start until Oct. 27. Those games would potentially overlap with the American League Championship Series, though, directly if the Jays were the higher seed or within a couple of days if they were the lower seed. There's no assurance whether or not the Jays will be playing then, so it's going to be interesting to see if the Argos get pushed out anyway on the basis that the baseball team might need the stadium.

Forcing a CFL move for a potential baseball game appears to be what's happened with this Oct. 6 move, and the ironic part of this is that the Argos-Redblacks' clash only conflicts with MLB's wild-card games, which the Blue Jays (three games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East before Wednesday's games) currently aren't in position for. Thus, it's possible there could be nothing happening at the Rogers Centre on the night the Argos have been forced to vacate. (They might still not be able to use the field Oct. 6, as the Jays would host a division series game on Oct. 8, which might be a tight turnaround to convert the stadium; still, it seems quite likely there won't be an actual game the night they're moving.) If that's the basis stadium owners Rogers (who also own the Jays) are going on (and really, why wouldn't they? The MLB postseason dates are fixed, so the Jays will need to have the capability to play on those dates) are operating on, and if the CFL requires substantial notice before moving a game, it seems highly likely the Oct. 17 and Oct. 23 games will be moved too. The question is where they'll wind up: Hamilton, as the team would like? A smaller university stadium nearby? Or to Calgary and Montreal?

Those games might not be the only ones affected, either. The CP story says the Argos' Oct. 30 home game against B.C. "will go as scheduled," and that may be possible; it's during the World Series, but during the first of three games in the National League park. However, there may be objections from Rogers and/or the Jays to hosting a football game two days after a World Series baseball game and only four days before another one. The field-conversion delay could also conceivably have an impact on Toronto's Nov. 6 home game against Winnipeg, which would take place just two days after a theoretical Game Seven of the World Series. These two games aren't in as direct conflict, but field-transition deadlines might impact them as well; we don't know exactly how long it takes to convert the Rogers Centre, but over 24 hours has been cited as too short in the past.  

This is part of the larger problem the Argos have faced for years as second-class citizens at Rogers Centre behind the Jays, and that's been particularly exacerbated this year thanks to the Pan Am Games, the Jays' success, the impending Argos' sale and move and the lame-duck season the football team's enduring. They'll be at BMO Field next year, and things should be somewhat better there; they'll still be behind another tenant (Toronto FC), but there are less MLS home games than MLB ones. However, as Duane Rollins has noted in the past, there still may be conflicts between the MLS playoffs (if TFC gets there) and the CFL schedule, and that could potentially even impact the plan to host the Grey Cup at BMO Field (which is still up in the air). Thus, while things should be somewhat better for the Argonauts next year, we may not have completely seen the last of their scheduling woes. For now, though, it's the Jays and the Rogers Centre that are the concern, and the key question is just how many games will be moved and where they'll be moved to. 

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