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Ridgefield Raptors hope for July start to season

Much of West Coast League likely won’t play due to Oregon, B.C. restrictions

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:
2 Photos
The Ridgefield Raptors hope to line up once again beginning in July for the West Coast League baseball season at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
The Ridgefield Raptors hope to line up once again beginning in July for the West Coast League baseball season at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Ridgefield Raptors still hope to play baseball this summer.

If they do, it will be a bit later than scheduled.

Friday, the West Coast League announced it is postponing the start of its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The collegiate wood bat league season, which was scheduled to begin June 5, will now target a start in early July.

The West Coast League includes 12 teams in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

However, it’s unlikely that a majority of teams would participate if the West Coast League begins play in July.

On Thursday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said sporting events and concerts with fans would likely not be allowed through September. In British Columbia, similar reopening guidelines make it unlikely sporting events will be held there this summer.

“As a result of these and other governmental directives, we anticipate that the WCL’s Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Kelowna Falcons, and Victoria HarbourCats will soon join the Bellingham Bells in canceling their 2020 seasons,” the West Coast League said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the league’s other teams continue to pursue all their options, with the potential for attracting a great number of terrific collegiate-level players.”

Thursday, the WCL’s Portland Pickles announced plans to play their home games without fans in attendance.

The Raptors are still hoping for games with fans in attendance. Washington’s phased re-opening plan would allow for sporting events with more than 50 people in Phase 4. The state is currently in Phase 1, with declining COVID-19 positive test rates and testing capacity being the main drivers for how the state gradually reopens.

Individual counties can apply to move through the phases at an accelerated pace.

Ridgefield Raptors general manager Gus Farah said Friday that he has sought guidance from local authorities on how to proceed. That led him not to rule out an abbreviated season against teams from Washington and the Pickles.

“What I’m not trying to say is that we’re smarter than everyone and that we know what’s going to happen,” Farah said. “We don’t.”

Farah previously told The Columbian the team would install additional handwashing stations and modify concession stands to allow for more social distancing. Those social distancing efforts would also be extended to the bleachers and outfield berms at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

For season-ticket holders, the Raptors are waiting to see what the 2020 season will look like before discussing price adjustments or refunds. A notice on the team’s website Friday said season tickets will be addressed once the 2020 schedule is announced.

Though Farah said it’s unclear if a Raptors season will happen this summer, he believed it’s too early to throw in the towel.

“We know there are still roadblocks to get over,” Farah said. “But we’re committed to riding this thing out.”

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