The independent league American Association has announced plans to launch a 2020 season. It’ll begin play on July 3rd and host contests in three cities.
While this plan won’t involve the kind of travel that Major League Baseball is contemplating, it’s notable that the indy ball outfit is preparing to tee up sixty contests per team. If local conditions allow, the league says it’ll expand to permit home games in all six of its usual home cities.
This is far from a typical American Association schedule. Beyond the obvious shortening and restrictions on travel, there won’t be as many participating clubs as usual. Last year a dozen organizations played in the league, twice as many as 2020. The players from teams sitting out will be made available to the other clubs through a draft process.
Most notable of all? There’ll be fans in attendance. As you might’ve guessed, television rights fees won’t support this particular ballplaying business — even in part. While you may have heard of the St. Paul Saints and even a few other American Association clubs, it’s the gate or nothing when it comes to staging a season.
Full details aren’t yet clear, but the league says it’ll employ measures to modify the in-game experience “to allow for safe social distancing while enjoying a live, professional baseball game.” The three hub cities — Fargo, North Dakota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota — were selected in large part because live attendance was permissible under local regulations.