The Atlantic League went into 2021 hoping to add teams and create an eight-team, two-division structure.
That hurdle was cleared Wednesday when the AL, which includes the Lancaster Barnstormers, added the West Virginia Power, a new franchise in Charleston, West Virginia.
The Power has been an affiliate of seven major league organizations and played in the Class A South Atlantic League before the restructuring of the affiliated minors.
The club plays in Appalachian Power Park, a 4,500-seat ballpark that opened in 2005.
The AL had eight members before the pandemic wiped out the 2020 season. It lost two franchises to major league affiliations when the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters became the Houston Astros’ Class AAA club, and the Somerset Patriots became the Class AA affiliate of the New York Yankees.
This was a six-team league as of two weeks ago. It has since added the Power and the Lexington (Kentucky) Legends, which like the Power were part of the South Atlantic League.
The AL also on Wednesday announced a North-South divisional alignment for 2021: The North Division will feature the Barnstormers, Long Island Ducks, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and York Revolution. The South Division will include the Power, Legends, and the league’s two new North Carolina franchises, the High Point Rockers and the Gastonia Honey Hunters.
“We are happy to have quickly restored our eight-team format and to have done so by attracting such successful organizations,” AL President Rick White said via a news release.
Later Wednesday, the AL and the Barnstormers announced their schedules which begin May 27. Lancaster will help christen the new Gastonia team in its opener which will be part of a seven-game, season-opening North Carolina road trip.
The home opener will be Friday, June 4, the first of a weekend series with the rival York Revolution.