The NightOwls won’t land in Nanaimo this summer after all.
The Nanaimo NightOwls and the Victoria HarbourCats announced Wednesday, April 14, the cancellation of the 2021 baseball season due to the pandemic.
The NightOwls said in a press release that the decision was made “with great sadness” and following “extensive” consultation with other West Coast League franchises in Canada. The press release cited the recent rise in COVID-19 case numbers and variants of concern as well as the potential for future health restrictions in B.C. and Alberta.
“There’s also significant logistics and partnerships and moving pieces in terms of putting on what we’ll put on at Serauxmen Stadium that needed to start to be enacted upon,” said Jim Swanson, NightOwls GM, speaking to the News Bulletin. “That window was really closing and kept on closing.”
He said he was still optimistic a month ago as B.C.’s mass immunization program started, and even after that, when the WCL announced schedule changes to remove international travel. But with gathering restrictions continuing, Swanson said it “would not be right” to try to proceed with baseball season in an empty stadium.
“We do this for the community. We do this for the fans,” he said.
They do it for the players, too, and the GM said announcing the cancellation of the season now gives players time to try to find alternative places to develop and play this summer.
Swanson said the NightOwls remain “100 per cent committed” to moving forward and bringing WCL baseball to Nanaimo next year, and will find ways to keep involved in the community in the meantime.
“This is not going to stop us…” he said. “The NightOwls are going to land in 2022 and it’s going to be like you guys have not seen in that town before.”
Fans who have purchased tickets or vouchers for games will receive full value for their purchases and season tickets will be rolled over to the 2022 season. For more information, visit http://nanaimonightowls.com.