The coronavirus pandemic has ended the baseball season for the Lancaster Barnstormers and the rest of the Atlantic League.
The league’s board of directors met Friday morning and decided restrictions due to the virus and varying guidelines of the league’s five state governments (Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina) made a 2020 season unworkable.
“It’s very disappointing,’’ Barnstormers General Manager Michael Reynolds said after the meeting. “There’s been so much growth in the league. We had some momentum going.
“But, I’m also optimistic that, with community support, we’ll be able to put something together to use our facility.’’
Reynolds said each AL franchise will create an individual plan to have some activity and generate some revenue from its ballpark in 2020.
For the Barnstormers, that will include turning Clipper Magazine Stadium into a “community park and a community center.’’
Reynolds said he plans to show an outdoor summer movie series,turn the Broken Bat Deck within the stadium into a bar and grille likely open Wednesdays through Saturdays, host Thursday happy hours including music, beer specials, cornhole and other lawn games, and open the stadium for rentals and private events.
He also said there is a baseball-related possibility: The Barnstormers and neighboring rival York Revolution are talking about a “War of the Roses’’ series of games in August.
Yes, that means that in some form, there may still be a 2020 edition of the Barnstormers.
“We’re still working through everything,’’ Reynolds said. “Some of the guys we already have signed will be involved.’’
An Atlantic League release published at noon Friday described the Lancaster-York partnership thusly:
“Senior managers from each club have already begun discussing options to bring some professional baseball to Central Pennsylvania this summer, as well as several new variations of the longstanding "War” that would welcome new activities and events in each city, with each being cross promoted and co-hosted by the two clubs.”
According to the release, three AL teams, the High Point (N.C.) Rockers, Long Island Ducks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, are working toward forming a league with other professional teams for a 70-game season beginning in mid-July.
The Somerset (New Jersey) Patriots plan to go a route similar to Lancaster and York: Open their stadium for community events with the possibility of some localized baseball.
The Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters, AL members since 2012, had previously announced the formation of a four-team league for this summer including the Skeeters, with all games played at the Skeeters’ ballpark in suburban Houston.
The Skeeters’ future is apparently in affiliated ball, according to multiple reports, perhaps as a minor-league affiliate of the Houston Astros.