BRIDGEWATER, NJ- the Somerset Patriots are planning several options at TD Bank Ballpark for the remainder of the summer following an announcement from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Friday that it will allow its member teams to pursue alternate baseball activities and events for the communities they serve.
That does include baseball, but the specifics are hazy.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several member clubs have not gained necessary approval from governmental and health officials to open their ballparks to a capacity level sufficient for participation," said Doug Eppler, director of Public Relations for the ALPB. "As a result, the 2020 schedule for each team has been opened up, with clubs permitted to seek new solutions for this season that conform to their current governmental guidelines in order to get ballparks opened and begin play."
The Somerset Patriots have submitted their COVID-19 readiness and reopening guidelines to the Governor’s Office, the New Jersey Department of Health, and local officials and health experts for review. The hopes are that the plans will be approved for the team to begin hosting larger community gatherings at the ballpark, according to Patrick McVerry, president and general manager of the Patriots.
If approved, the Somerset Patriots are looking to bring a localized professional baseball league to the ballpark for fans to enjoy this summer. More details on what that will entail will be coming soon.
“Our staff has been working very hard over the past few months for new and exciting ways to use our ballpark for events and to help the community,” McVerry said. “While we are still in the process of understanding what will be allowed, know that we will find the appropriate ways to safely bring people together to enjoy family fun, community entertainment, and hopefully professional baseball again real soon.”
Despite Friday night's rain and thunder storms, the Patriots were able to launch a fireworks show, with several more drive-in movie dates scheduled. All have been sold out. The Patriots also hosted an abbreviated workout for some of its players a few weeks ago at the ballpark.
In addition, the ballpark will be the site for more drive-in movies, fireworks shows, youth baseball tournaments, graduations, blood drives, and collections to benefit those in need located in the team’s area.
Following are Atlantic League club updates and status reports:
The High Point Rockers, Long Island Ducks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are working with several professional baseball clubs towards finalizing a 70-game schedule of play that would begin in mid-July and wrap up at the end of September with a five-game championship series.
“The Atlantic League and other leagues are in similar positions,” said Atlantic League President Rick White. “There are multiple teams in each league at different stages of reopening; therefore, some who are able to begin play and some who are not. This solution would pair those clubs able to play and entertain fans at their ballparks, providing a high level of professional baseball and affordable family entertainment.”
The schedule, start date, and further information for this 70-game slate will be announced in the near future, subject to governmental and health guidelines being met in each market, on www.highpointrockers.com, www.liducks.com, and www.somdbluecrabs.com.
The Lancaster Barnstormers will open Clipper Magazine Stadium to host an outdoor summer movie series as well as Thursday Happy Hours including music, beer specials, cornhole, and other lawn games. The club will also make its ballpark available for baseball and softball teams and companies and fans for private events. The Barnstormers are encouraging members of the Lancaster community to share any ideas they have for Clipper Magazine Stadium during these times. More information will be posted on www.lancasterbarnstormers.com.
The Barnstormers are also partnering with fellow Pennsylvania team the York Revolution to turn their long-time friendly rivalry into a new community outreach initiative. The plan would build on the long-time “War of the Roses” partnership of the two clubs. Senior managers from each club have already begun discussing options to bring some professional baseball to Central Pennsylvania this summer, as well as several new variations of the longstanding “War” that would welcome new activities and events in each city, with each being cross-promoted and co-hosted by the two clubs.
The Sugar Land Skeeters will host a four-team professional baseball league in Texas at their home ballpark beginning July 3 and running through Aug. 23. Each team will play 28 games for a total of 56 games during the season. The teams will consist of players with Major League baseball and other professional service time and will be managed by well-known personalities such as Roger Clemens, Greg Swindell, and Pete Incaviglia. For rosters, schedules, and start times,visit www.sugarlandskeeters.com.
In addition to its activities with the Barnstormers, the York Revolution will host a variety of outdoor dining events, movies on the ballpark video board, youth and adult league baseball games, and community events and private parties. The team has also begun marketing PeoplesBank Park’s large outdoor seating areas as alternative meeting and event spaces for area companies and organizations seeking unique options that conform to health official recommendations. To learn more about availability and events, visit www.yorkrevolution.com.
“These activities epitomize the innovation of Atlantic League clubs,” said ALPB President Rick White. “Our clubs value their deep connections to their communities. In a season unlike any other, our teams have responded with remarkable commitment to their cities in a variety of innovative and economical ways and with a focus on the health and safety of guests who enter our parks for games and other events.”
For updates on this announcement, schedules and other league information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent more than 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 23-year history. For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.