OLEAN, NY - On East State Street, Bradner Stadium will stand empty this summer.
On April 27, the Olean Oilers announced the team would not play baseball this summer. On Tuesday at 5 p.m., the New York Collegiate Baseball League made it official and canceled the 2020 season, making gthe announcement on Twitter:
“As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, the NYCBL would like to thank all of our franchises, players, coaches, communities and sponsors for their support during these times. We are proud members of the National Alliance of Collegiate Summer Baseball and have had a deep history since 1978. We explored multiple options to play some version of a 2020 summer season. The NYCBL announces the cancellation of the 2020 season. Safety is our ultimate concern for everyone as we continue to follow both local, state and federal guidelines. We look forward to being stronger than ever for the 2021 season.”
Brian O’Connell Jr., owner of the Oilers, said the NYCBL’s official decision took time, as some organizations tried to hold on to some hope for as long as they could.
“Some of the teams in the Eastern Division were trying to hold on to see if they could play because they were closer in terms of geographic location,” O’Connell said. “We were trying all sorts of different modifications.”
The NYCBL’s decision to cancel the 2020 season entirely comes just three weeks after it announced plans to start the season June 15.
However, as the NYCBL continued to discuss that plan and other options, a summer with baseball became too complicated to envision, O’Connell said.
“A lot of things changed with respect to the pandemic,” he said. “There were really no guidelines from federal state and local governments on whether sporting events were going to be able to go on in the summer. Because we're an affiliated league with Major League Baseball, we worked with our contacts in the MLB and other alliance leagues. With everything that had to go into it from a safety aspect, we could not see a way forward.”
Since the Oilers rely heavily on local businesses as sponsors, O’Connell said that playing this summer would have been a stretch for the organization either way. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the Oilers’ sponsors, according to O’Connell.
“Most of our local sponsors were actually shut down due to the pandemic,” O’Connell explained. “I did not feel that it was appropriate to contact them to see if they were going to be sponsoring. Those sponsors are dealing with business shutdowns, their families, employees and so on.”
O’Connell continued, “It was going to be really difficult to proceed with a season with the lack of sponsorship due to the current economic conditions.”
According to O’Connell, mostly volunteers work for the organization in the summer. From an employee and economic standpoint, according to O’Connell, the impact is limited for the Oilers. The games, however, will be missed.
“We don’t employ anyone,” he said. “We’re volunteer. We have a few independent contractors that we hire, such as the director of operations. I, as the coach and the president of the team, volunteer my services. From an employee standpoint, the impact is limited, but from a quality-of-life standpoint, certainly it’s not. People enjoy going to the ballpark. They enjoy watching the games, and it gives the people in the community something to look forward to, which unfortunately, that will not be the case this summer.”
Oilers Season Pass Update:
The Olean Oilers will honor all 2020 season passes in 2021, O’Connell said. Refunds can also be given. O’Connell, owner of Brian O’Connell Jr. Law Firm, asks anyone who would like a refund to contact his law office.
“If anybody purchased a 2020 season pass, they will be good for 2021,” O’Connell said. “If somebody would like a refund, they just need to contact my law office. Eventually, they would need to send in or bring the season pass into the office for a full refund.”
For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.
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