Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale says he is confident the 2020/21 Australian Baseball League season will go ahead as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across Australia and New Zealand.
All eight clubs have signalled they intend to compete and have been convening weekly via video conference to plan for the league’s 11th season since an owners meeting in April to discuss the impact of COVID-19.
Vale said planning was moving forward and the next two months would play a pivotal role in decision making ahead of a likely schedule release in the second week of August.
“Australians have done a fantastic job of adhering to restrictions set by the Federal and State Governments and we’re now seeing restrictions lift and life begin to return to normal,” Vale said.
“It puts us in a position where we’re very confident the season will be able to go ahead, but the next couple of months will dictate exactly how the season looks.
“It is a significantly more positive outlook than when we met in April in the midst of the lockdown measures, but we have plenty of challenges ahead.”
Vale said the league was working on a number of versions of the schedule.
He said an August release, two months later than last year, would provide a clearer picture of how the leagues’s 11th season would work.
“As it stands there are several states still enforcing 14-day quarantine periods for interstate travellers which impact the ABL,” he said.
“International travellers also face quarantine periods which will impact Geelong-Korea’s arrival and also travel between Australia and Auckland.
“The next couple of months should present a clearer picture of how those restrictions will look by our season, but in the meantime we’re planning for a number of scenarios so all eight teams can compete.”
Vale hoped the season would be as close to normal as possible but said the clubs understood they may need to make some compromises.
He said the league also remained hopeful fans would be able to attend games during the 2020/21 season but could not make any promises.
“Our fans are so important to us and out clubs and we hope they will have the ability to attend games,” Vale said.
“That would of course be with social distancing requirements being met.
“We’ve been heartened by the return of other sports and discussions around fans being able to attend so we’ll continue to monitor the situation and cross our fingers it will be possible.”
League and teams will continue to regularly communicate and exchange ideas up until the release of the schedule in August.