Blue Jays to take a hike

DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

As if the Blue Jays don't have enough trouble keeping their fleeing fans happy these days, now they've been forced to relocate the most anticipated series of the summer to Philadelphia.

Even Roy Halladay, the Jays' former Cy Young winner, is said to be disappointed by the development.

Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston delivered the painful, though not unexpected news Tuesday afternoon.

Instead of playing host to the 2008 World Series champion Phillies for three interleague games, June 25-27, at the Rogers Centre, the series will be played in Philadelphia instead.

That means no Halladay pitching in Toronto this year.

The G20 summit, June 26-27 at the Metro Convention Centre, is the culprit.

With finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries plus the European Union holding their two-day confab next door to the Rogers Centre, the entire neighbourhood will be in lockdown.

In fact, the Jays have offered their ball park to G20 security forces, in case they need the extra space.

"It's not that we're filling the stadium these days as I read in the papers," Beeston quipped. "So I'm aware of what Doc would have meant (to our fan base).

"It would have been a terrific opportunity to recognize a quality individual who had been here. Equally important, we had a team that has been to the World Series the last two years, so it was a big weekend for us. Not having them here is difficult. It's a big deal."

The good news -- for the Jays -- is that they likely won't lose a cent on the switch, Beeston saying the deal they worked out with the Phillies was expected to be "revenue neutral."

That's in spite of the fact the Jays had budgeted for 90,000 fans streaming through the Rogers turnstiles that weekend.

As for Halladay, there's always next year, as Beeston hopes to coax Major League Baseball into scheduling another series against the Phillies for the Rogers Centre in 2011.

It's hard to blame the Jays for the kerfuffle, considering the 2010 schedule had been released long before the G20 selected Toronto.

"This is a big opportunity for this country with the G20," Beeston admitted. "Unfortunately, it coincides with the worst weekend, the weekend with the Phillies series.

"We did not want to move the games, but in looking at the realities of the situation, we felt that relocation was the most prudent course of action."

The Jays, at least officially, will remain the "home team" for the series, meaning they'll bat last and the designated hitter rule will be in effect.

Fans holding tickets for the cancelled series will be entitled, along with a full refund, to free tickets for another Jays game this season.

Shortly after the Jays issued the cruel news, Toronto FC announced their Saturday, June 26, home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy would go ahead as planned.

"After discussing the G20 Summit with the local organizers and the RCMP, we determined that given the late-evening start (7:30) of the game, there was no need to reschedule this match," said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of venues and entertainment for MLSEL.


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