Northwoods League plans possible June start to season, Minnesota baseball teams remain benched
The Northwoods League could start their baseball season in select locations by mid-June, according to a league official that includes Wisconsin teams.
"It looks that way, it looks that way, it's just what that form is going to look like is the real question," said Northwoods League chairman Dick Radatz, Jr.
The Bismarck Larks club announced this week that they have the approval to play games with fans in the stands in North Dakota starting June 15, with more states including Wisconsin allowing play, league officials said.
"If you would have told me Wisconsin would open up before Minnesota, I would have lost that bet,” said Radatz, Jr.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that no youth sports games nor larger sporting events will be allowed at this time due to COVID-19 concerns.
Duluth, Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud and Willmar have teams in the league, which is made up of college baseball players.
"We continue to play this waiting game to find out what direction we are going," said Ryan Voz, co-owner of the Willmar Stingers.
The team recently posted a video showing new COVID-19 safety changes and social distancing at the stadium in hopes they’d be allowed to open to smaller crowds.
"We'd set up the stadium in pods to keep people's safety as a number one concern. We'd be eager to play with 300 fans in the ballpark," Voz said.
League officials said all their clubs have submitted COVID-19 safety plans to health authorities for review.
The Stingers are waiting to see when the league and state give them the possible green light to play.
"We're holding hope Northwoods League baseball can be that glimmer of hope going forward for the summer," Voz said.