Frontier League cancels 2020 season, Otters will not play

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The Frontier League announced Wednesday that the 2020 baseball season will be canceled.

The League initially postponed the start of the 2020 season on April 1 following shutdown, quarantine, and social distancing practices across the U.S. in response to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The Evansville Otters will not take the field at Bosse Field, which underwent renovations and upgrades this offseason, until 2021 at the earliest.

The Otters organization released the following statement:

“Today, the Frontier League administration will issue a release announcing the 2020 Frontier League Championship season will not occur.  Because of this and other factors, the Otters will not play baseball in 2020.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is the underlying reason for the cancellation of the league season. Over the past three months, league officials and owners reviewed numerous alternatives in an effort to play this summer, but in the long run, unresolved regulatory and health issues made playing unfeasible.

Regulatory Guidance:

You may recall that the Frontier League expanded to 14 teams in October; the new teams are in Canada, New York, and New Jersey. The seven states where franchises are located (and the country of Canada) have chosen vastly different ways of handling the pandemic, and that dilemma has impacted the league’s ability to play as a single unit.

For example, Canada has imposed a 14-day quarantine coming into the country and again when leaving.  Professional sports in Illinois, the home of five Frontier League teams, remain strictly regulated.  On balance, the uncertainty of which teams can play and when they can play played a key role in the decision.

Health Risk:

Secondly, in the case of the Otters, our average attendance is around 2,000, with occasional games where the crowd size is over 3,000.  CDC recommendations would make it impractical, if not impossible, to host that many fans without posing a health risk to those attending, regardless of how much effort management put into preventing that from happening.

The health of our players, fans, employees, vendors, and others upon whom we rely to create an entertaining season has always been of utmost importance, and the risk for crowds was a primary factor for us as well.

The Future:

Otters leadership continues to evaluate whether Bosse Field can host any types of events this summer, as we are aware that many people enjoy coming to Bosse Field for a variety of reasons.  If appropriate, management would welcome hosting smaller groups on some basis and will keep the community informed of this possibility.

In the meantime, we plan to entertain you with a series of activities related to the Otters, such as the Virtual Anniversary game recently broadcast on YouTube. Check social media and our website for updates.

Needless to say, we are very disappointed (and saddened) that we cannot play this season.  A lot of work has gone into what would have been a wonderful year with the extensive improvements to Bosse Field and an expanded and more competitive league.

We are already looking forward to 2021 with a lot of plans that we hope our fans will love.”

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(This story was originally published on June 24, 2020)

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