SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Canaries found out late last week they were one of six American Association franchises competing this year. Sioux Falls is also one of the league’s three hub cities, and will act as home field for both the Canaries and St. Paul Saints.
The six franchises competing this year were determined by each city’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“The number one thing is obviously safety for everybody involved, and the ability to host games with fans in the stands. When the visiting teams became involved then it came down to geographics, and then potential ability to go back to their home stadiums at some point throughout the summer,” Canaries General Manager Duell Higbe said.
Players from the six non-participating teams will still be eligible to play, as the league will hold a dispersal draft this week.
“You know, I know all the other managers, we’re going to do our best to try to grab some of the best players off those rosters and make sure they have a job for the summer. And try to put the best brand of baseball out there,” Manager Mike Meyer said.
With Major League Baseball still not playing, and no minor league ball being held, the Association hopes it can gain some new fans during this time.
“It’s a lot like when Independent Baseball kind of was formed. You know 93, nobody really knew what it was. They thought it was a glorified beer league, and then you know, the strike hits the next year, and then next thing you know, it’s the only baseball going on,” Meyer said.
Players and coaches will be tested for COVID-19 prior to training camp, and then will be screened when they enter and leave the ballpark each day. Social distancing measures at the stadium will also be implemented, as capacity will be limited, and spacing will be enforced, all to provide fans with some safe entertainment.
“We’ve went through extensive planning on restrictions and protocols for every scenario we might face here this summer. Huge for us. We’re extremely excited to be able to provide some entertainment, some much-needed entertainment for the Sioux Empire,” Higbe said.
The season will be reduced to 60 games, with each team playing 42 of those games at their designated home field, with no doubleheaders allowed between teams in the same hub city. The season is set to begin on July 3.