New Ulm’s out. Springfield’s still in. On deck, Milroy and Shakopee.
Milroy and Shakopee were selected as sites for the 2020 state amateur baseball tournament Monday night at an emergency meeting of the Minnesota Baseball Association Board of Directors.
The meeting was necessary when the New Ulm City Council voted Friday night in its own emergency meeting to back out as the host of this year’s state tournament with Springfield.
The vote was 5-0 and was prompted by a letter from New Ulm physicians recommending that the city not host a state tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Milroy Yankees and Springfield will host the three-weekend state Class C tournament scheduled Aug. 21-23, Aug. 28-30 and Sept. 4-6, with the state championship set for Sept. 6 in Springfield.
Shakopee will host the entire Class B tournament over the same three weekends.
“I think it shows a lot of support by Milroy and Shakopee to help us out at such a late date,” said MBA board member Mike Nagel of Bird Island. “It shows their love of amateur baseball to help the state out when they knew we needed their help.”
New Ulm’s decision was contentious. Its city council approved having the state tournament at a July 7 meeting by a 3-2 vote.
Current guidelines and restrictions have been set up by the state and were updated July 18 concerning social distancing and protocols set up if a player or fan were to test positive for COVID-19.
So far, there have been 42 positive tests for players, Nagel confirmed. He noted that not one was one player transmitting the virus to another. All apparently have happened away from the ballpark.
The 97th annual state tournament includes 48 Class C teams, eight Class B teams and eight Class A teams. The Class A state tournament is in the Twin Cities.
The tournament draws at least 15,000 fans over three weekends most years, though how the pandemic affects the numbers is uncertain.
It’s not the first time the state board has changed locations of the state tournament at such a late date. In 2006, Rochester was set to host the state tournament. Its city council did not grant a temporary liquor license to one of the two proposed sites and the MBA then moved the state tournament to Red Wing and Miesville.
Shakopee was host to the 2018 state tournament with New Prague and Jordan. This will be Milroy’s first time as a state amateur baseball tournament host, though the city, which has two ballparks, has been host to the state American Legion baseball tournament, both the Tier II tournament and when it was a one-class tournament in 1986. That year, it was a co-host with Marshall.
“I know there are some people at Milroy tonight who were awaiting word with some boards and hammers in their hands getting ready to build a party deck (at Milroy’s Yankee Stadium) if this was approved,” Nagel said.
Back-up sites in case of rain are Gaylord and Marshall.
When New Ulm would be able to host the tournament again is uncertain. The 2021 tournament already has been awarded to Waconia and Chaska. In ‘22, Dundas and Faribault are hosts.
The 2023 tournament, which will be the 100th, has not been awarded.
Nagel is uncertain if the tournament will be in a better situation next year.
“Right now, there’s no way of knowing if COVID’s going to be down in 2021,” he said. “It’s something we’ll have to re-assess if the time comes.”