The Lincoln Saltdogs announced Friday that they are canceling their 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Team officials said they dropped plans to play this season after consulting with health care experts. The American Association will still play a 60-game season starting July 3 with six teams playing at three hub locations.
“We're very disappointed we can't play,” Charlie Meyer, the team's president and general manager, said in a statement. “We've been monitoring this pandemic from the beginning, and after discussing various contingency plans with our league partners, we arrived at the conclusion that we would not be able to provide professional baseball for our fans in Lincoln this year.”
Joining the Saltdogs in not playing the 2020 season are the Cleburne Railroaders, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, Sioux City Explorers and Texas AirHogs. All six teams will return to operations in the 2021 season.
Milwaukee; Fargo, North Dakota; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota; were the three locations selected for this season based on geography and local COVID-19 guidelines that allow fans to attend games. Joining the Milkmen, RedHawks and Canaries are the St. Paul Saints, Chicago Dogs and Winnipeg Goldeyes. Training begins June 25.
“A lot is based on government restrictions markets and teams are dealing with,” Meyer told the Journal Star on Friday in regard to why the Saltdogs won't play at one of the hub sites. ”That's the primary thing. Which markets were able to host games. It has not been an easy decision to work through.”
Though the Saltdogs will not play this season, not all is lost for players on the current roster.
The American Association will hold a draft next week of players on teams not participating this season. If a player is drafted and chooses to participate this season, they will return to their initial club for the 2021 season.
As far as he knows, Meyer said American Association league restrictions are still in place. Currently the league allows a 23-man roster and salary cap, but those may be loosened in the coming weeks.
As for Meyer and the Saltdogs, they will begin preparations for the 2021 season.
“This was supposed to be a year of celebration of 20 years,” Meyer said. “Now, more than ever, we can't wait to see fans back in the ballpark for a celebration of our 20th season in 2021."
The Saltdogs began play in Lincoln as members of the Northern League in 2001. They have been members of the American Association since the league's creation in 2006. They won the league title in 2009, full season division titles in 2014 and 2017, and half-season division titles in 2006 (both halves), 2007 and 2009.
The Saltdogs broadcast announcer Michael Dixon and Meyer will host a Q&A session Monday on Facebook Live for fans wanting more information on the cancellation of the 2020 season.