London Majors, league united in optimism for 2021 season with fans

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Roop Chanderdat is hoping for more this summer than a single exhibition game to keep Labatt Park’s legacy alive.

“We’re planning for a normal (36-game schedule) with some fans,” the co-owner and manager of the Intercounty Baseball League’s London Majors said. “We want to do something and I don’t think our league can be dormant for two years. You need approvals from government and health units and you need someone to play with, but we want to keep it going in some capacity.”

The league released its proposed 2021 schedule this week and London is due to open June 4 against Toronto. There are backup schedules in place that account for start dates of June 15, July 1 and July 15 that would take the league to late September.

So far, all eight teams are on board.

“I think there is a lot more optimism,” league commissioner John Kastner said. “You get discouraged by the (virus) variants but you start to think what is this going to look like in 100 or 150 days. When you look at vaccination rollout, the fact we’re outside and you can spread out people well at every one of our stadiums, it’s more people calling and saying, ‘I hope we can play’.”

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Access to American and other import players can be figured out down the road. If the Toronto area numbers remain a concern, then division bubbles will be on the table.

But the biggest factor remains the government’s stance on patrons. Teams can budget for an average of 300 fans a game but anything less will make it difficult for anyone to operate.

“We need some fans in the stands or it’s hard to make it work,” Chanderdat said. “We’ll do something to make sure there is a game at Labatt Park again this year, but we’ll wait as long as we can to try to get something that feels more normal.”

READY TO GO: The collegiate ball season in the United States is plowing ahead despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19. One notable matchup features a couple of ex-Majors at the helm of their programs. Al Ready’s University of Indianapolis Greyhounds take on Brandon Steele’s Tusculum University Pioneers in a season-opening three-game set starting Saturday in Greenville, Tenn.

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