The Canberra Cavalry’s hopes and plans for the new season have been put on hold after the Australian Baseball League (ABL) announced the cancellation of the upcoming 2021/22 ABL Season due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
The decision, announced on Wednesday (20 October), comes despite efforts by the ABL to reschedule and rearrange the structure of the competition to overcome the challenges raised by the pandemic.
Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams said the decision was incredibly difficult to make but was made with the league’s long-term success and sustainability in mind.
“There is still too much uncertainty around Australia’s ongoing COVID restrictions for us to be able to operate a successful ABL season,” Mr Williams said.
“We know how much the ABL means to our fans, players, coaches, officials and the wider baseball community, and we exhausted all options to try to find a way to conduct a sustainable season, but we couldn’t find a way through.
“This is understandably disappointing, but we are confident this is the right decision and in the best long-term interests of the ABL and its teams.”
The league last month pushed back opening day to mid-to-late December, but with an early February deadline to wrap up the season and a large number of unknowns due to COVID, the challenge of completing a season was becoming increasingly complex.
The Canberra Cavalry were about to head into the season under new management. Licence owner and CEO Illya Mastoris acknowledged the impact of the cancellation, with the club already having to overcome several challenges in the past few years.
“This has been a difficult time in Australia, not just for baseball and the Cavalry, but our entire community.” Mr Mastoris said.
“We were looking forward to welcoming fans back to the ballpark after two consecutive seasons impacted by the bushfires and then COVID. As new owners, we were excited with the progress we had made with our preparations and had some great, talented players looking to make Canberra their home for the summer.”
Preparations were well underway in the Cavalry’s push to their second Claxton Shield, having already locked in local and domestic players, top-line players from some of the American Independent Leagues, and young upcoming talent from some of the Major League’s best player development systems.
Cavalry licence owner and COO Brendon Major says the break in regular fixtures will provide the club with a rare opportunity to build further.
“Yes, it hurts to not play this season, but we now have a full 12 months to prepare and come back bigger and stronger than ever,” Mr Major said.
“We already had a few surprises in store for our fans at the ballpark for this season, and now with an additional year, we can take the experience to a whole new level.”
Cavalry general manager Sunny Singh says while the season cancellation brings about considerable disappointment to the new regime, he believes that there will still be opportunities for the Canberra public to get its fix of baseball this summer.
“This is hard for our fans, who have been so wonderful throughout the adversity of the last two years,” Mr Singh said.
“They deserve the absolute best and with the work that we have put in so far, our return to MIT Ballpark is going to be that much sweeter when we’re back out there doing what we love.
“We have already started talking with other ABL teams about finding opportunities to have some baseball at the Fort @ MIT Ballpark this summer, and with COVID-19 restrictions allowing, we’ll be making every effort to make sure it happens.”