WCBL Cancels 2020 Season
Posted May 27, 2020
The Western Canadian Baseball League have reportedly cancelled their 2020 season due to Covid-19. The Regina Red Sox issued a press release after the league meeting in Lethbridge tonight where the tough decision was made. Note: the WCBL officially confirmed the cancellation of the 2020 season in a Tweet posted after the announcement from the Regina Red Sox.
As we have all come to know, the decision to cancel, postpone or suspend baseball activities at any level has been a tough decision in these unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The loss of the WCBL season is a big loss to baseball across the prairies as the summer collegiate league provided opportunities to local baseball players such as Dylan Borman (Lethbridge Bulls) and Kyler Charhun (Edmonton Prospects) in a high calibre league for the summer. It was also Alberta and Saskatchewan's highest calibre league with players from across Canada and the United States suiting up for one of the ten teams expected to hit the field in 2020.
As sad as it may be to see another level of baseball have to throw in the towel in 2020 due to Covid-19, the decision by the WCBL was not surprising. The league highly relies on ticket revenue along with sponsorship dollars for the communities they play in. The current situation seems to dictate that there will be no gathering of fans permitted under the Alberta Health guidelines meaning empty stands and no revenue. There was also the question about what teams would do without players from the United States being able to cross the border. Currently on the Edmonton Prospects website, there are twenty two players listed on the 2020 roster, twelve of whom are from the United States.
In the end the tough decision is the right decision to ensure that the health and safety of the league’s teams, umpires, staff and fans is the number one priority.
You can read the full Regina Red Sox statement below or on their website, the WCBL officially announced, with the same press release, the cancellation on Twitter later on in the evening.
May 27th, 2020
LETHBRIDGE, AB – Media Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
The Western Canadian Baseball League Board of Governors has voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 WCBL season. This difficult decision was based on our number one concern, the health and safety needs of all involved. Following the Federal, Provincial, and municipal government health guidelines and medical recommendations, the league determined it would be impossible to guarantee the safety of players, coaches, umpires, host families, staff, volunteers and fans during the COVID- 19 pandemic situation to the extent required by authorities.
The league faced a variety of problems and looked at all options before coming to the decision to cancel the season. Pushing back the start date of the season until July 4th or playing with only Canadian players to prevail over border issues are a couple options the league explored before cancelling. With the Federal government announcing that the border will remain closed until at least June 22, and that people must self-isolate for 14 days once they cross the border, we would not have enough time to carry out a season. Gathering size and social distancing were also major factors. With the Provincial governments announcing that gathering sizes are restricted to 50 persons, teams would face serious challenges trying to get fans into the stadiums. Social distancing would be a challenge in clubhouses and especially on buses that teams must use for travel purposed. The League even explored the option of reducing stadium capacities to allow for better social distancing and by operating with temperature checks and masks. Unfortunately, our franchises will not be able to adjust to the economic impact of such a model due to the reality that our teams rely mainly on park generated revenues plus the community initiatives to fund operations.
The league and its teams would like to thank all the players who signed to play baseball in the WCBL this summer. Your commitment and perseverance to play baseball this summer did not go unnoticed. It is heartbreaking that we will have to go a summer without baseball in the WCBL, and we feel for players whose college careers have been shortened by these unpronounced circumstances.
To our fans and communities, thank you very much for the continued support through these unprecedented times. Our fans make WCBL stadiums a special place to play for the players during the summer, giving them a chance to play in front of thousands of people in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The community support the league and its teams have received over the past number of years is fantastic! As a league we have plans to implement a strategy to stay relevant and connected until we can get back on the field. With no baseball this summer teams will need community support now more than ever as they shift to survive this crisis.
We would like to thank all our dedicated volunteers and sponsors for their support and look forward to coming back better than ever in 2021. Thank you for your continued support and stay safe and healthy.
For information on the above, please contact Kevin Kvame, WCBL President, at president@WCBLeague.com or by phone at 403-320-2025.