Minor League Baseball cancels 2020 season
Columbia, S.C.– Minor League Baseball (MiLB) today announced that there would not be a 2020 season. This announcement affects the Columbia Fireflies and 159 affiliated MiLB teams across the US and Canada.
According to the statement issued by MiLB, “Major League Baseball (MLB) has informed Minor League Baseball that is will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season. As a result, there will not be a Minor League Baseball season in 2020.”
On March 12th, Minor League Baseball – in conjunction with health officials and the Federal government –announced a delay to the start of the 2020 season. Despite the delay, the Fireflies continued to prepare for a rescheduled Opening Night, including revising and updating health and safety protocols.
The Fireflies primary concern has been and will always be the safety of our community – including fans, front office staff, gameday staff, players and coaches.
“The Columbia Fireflies are devastated by today’s announcement,” said Fireflies president John Katz. “This is not just about the Fireflies not playing baseball. It is about our team of 30 dedicated staff members that rely on the Fireflies to support themselves and their families. It’s about our hundreds of part-time and seasonal team members that come together to make Segra Park the best fan experience in the South Atlantic League.”
“Despite common misconceptions, the Fireflies are not subsidized by Major League Baseball or the New York Mets,” said Katz. “The team, like thousands of other small businesses, is struggling because of the current circumstances. It will be a challenge to determine how we manage our organization during a span of 19 months between Fireflies games, but we have the right team together to make the best of a difficult situation.”
The hard work at Segra Park is ongoing as the team continues to look beyond Fireflies baseball in the short-term and get ready to welcome guests back to the ballpark for other community and private events. The facilities and food and beverage teams are continuing to implement best-practices for cleanliness and sanitization of the park and have added new health and safety measures that provide our visitors with the safest, healthiest experience possible.
“Thankfully, we are blessed with a team of creative, innovative problem solvers,” said Katz. “This is a new kind of problem, but I have every confidence we’ll get through these challenging times together.”
The Fireflies have begun hosting gatherings of appropriate numbers of people with guidance from local and national experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control (DHEC) and the City of Columbia.
“We opened Segra Park as a weekend restaurant on May 30th and have seen crowds grow every week,” said Katz. “We’re currently hosting SCALB baseball games every Tuesday and Thursday night through the end of July. We know that our community will return home to Segra Park and we’re ready to welcome them back. The events will grow when it is safe and appropriate for larger gatherings, and there’s nothing we want more than to see smiling faces at the ballpark once again.”
While these other events cannot and will not replace Fireflies games or the baseball season, it is the team’s hope that they provide a valuable outlet for members of the community, help replace a small part of the revenue lost by the cancellation of games and keep the Fireflies staff engaged and productive.
Looking forward, the Fireflies are committed to making the 2021 “comeback” season the best yet at Segra Park. Individual tickets purchased for any game during the 2020 season can be kept and exchanged for any game during the 2021 season once that schedule is available.
“We have been communicating with our key stakeholders throughout the delay,” said Katz. “We had remained cautiously optimistic that there would be a modified season in 2020, but we now know that will not be the case.”
Season ticket members, group leaders and corporate partners will be contacted in the coming days with options for each individual circumstance.
“Fireflies baseball will be back and better than ever next season,” added Katz. “The baseball can wait. Our priority is ensuring the health and safety of our entire Fireflies family, including our fans, our staff, our gameday team, our players and our coaches.”