Minor League Baseball has officially cancelled its 2020 season, meaning there will be no baseball played at Nat Bailey Stadium this year.
The Vancouver Canadians, who play in the Short-Season Single A Northwest League, will therefore set their sights on 2021.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 30, 2020
With the pandemic still wreaking havoc, particularly in the United States, playing baseball safely at the minor league level was unrealistic. In addition, without lucrative television contracts, minor league teams rely on revenue generated from ticket and concession sales more than their major league counterparts.
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The Canadians could look very different whenever they do take to the field again. Major League Baseball has long been rumoured to want to reduce the number of affiliated minor league teams, and Class A Short-Season leagues, like the one the Canadians play in, are expected to be on the chopping block.
“Something’s going to happen,” Canadians President Andy Dunn told TSN 1040 in April. “Major League Baseball’s trying to cut some franchises.”
Though their league could be affected, as one of the most successfully-run teams in all of minor league baseball, the Canadians should land on their feet somewhere.
“We’re going to have baseball in Vancouver, that’s not even in doubt,” said Dunn, whose team averaged a league-high 6,210 spectators per game last season — more than seven of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League, a league the Triple A Canadians used to call home.
Dunn said that the Canadians could begin playing in a full-season league next year, which would mean baseball at Nat Bailey Stadium beginning in April, instead of June. The Canadians currently play a 76-game season, from June to September. A full-season schedule would mean approximately 110 to 130 games per team.
If the Canadians change leagues, that could affect their affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Canadians have won four league titles and have seen their attendance grow since their affiliation began with the Blue Jays in 2011.