Vancouver Island baseball teams cancel 2021 season
VICTORIA -- Two West Coast League baseball teams on Vancouver Island have cancelled their entire seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls announced the cancellation of their 2021 seasons Wednesday.
Team owners say the decision to cancel the season was made "with great sadness" after consultations with teams in Kamloops, Kelowna and Edmonton.
Ten U.S.-based WCL teams will still play a modified season with some fan capacity allowed at games.
“Unfortunately for the Canadian teams, given the ongoing nature of the pandemic – the recent rise in case numbers and variants, the provincial health officer’s guidelines and current and possible future restrictions in both British Columbia and Alberta, along with the ongoing Canadian-U.S. border closure – ownership felt they had no other choice but to cancel the 2021 season,” said a spokesperson for the Nanaimo and Victoria teams Wednesday.
“There are simply too many things working against us,” said HarbourCats and NightOwls general manager Jim Swanson.
"We are also very appreciative of both our fan base and our sponsorship base, who have continued to support both teams and remain patient," Swanson added. “This is hard on our staff and coaches, and we now give players time to find places to develop further this summer, likely somewhere in the U.S.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps also expressed her disappointment about the cancellation.
"Right about now, what many people would like to do is something normal like having a burger and a beer and cheering on our home team," Helps said in a statement. "I respect the decision of the HarbourCats management and thank them for keeping our community safe. In the meantime, I know we’ll all look forward with anticipation to the 2022 season.”
Fans who bought tickets or ticket vouchers for 2021 HarbourCats and NightOwls games can exchange their tickets for games next season. Season ticket holders will automatically have their tickets rolled over into the 2022 season.