Amid its second straight cancelled West Coast League season, the Victoria HarbourCats are hoping the recently relaxed public gathering restrictions will allow them to play exhibition games this summer. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart/Victoria HarbourCats)

Amid its second straight cancelled West Coast League season, the Victoria HarbourCats are hoping the recently relaxed public gathering restrictions will allow them to play exhibition games this summer. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart/Victoria HarbourCats)

Victoria HarbourCats exploring possibility of exhibition ball games for late summer

Unable to assemble signed squad, HarbourCats may play other Canadian teams in West Coast League

Amid its second straight cancelled season, the Victoria HarbourCats said the province relaxing public safety restrictions could allow them to play some exhibition games later this summer.

The pandemic caused all five of the West Coast League’s Canadian teams to be benched for the 2021 season. With sporting events allowed to host larger crowds in stage three of B.C.’s reopening plan, the HarbourCats playing some exhibition games, or a series against sister team the Nanaimo NightOwls, is being explored by Jim Swanson, the managing partner for both squads.

READ: B.C. drops COVID-19 mask order, recommended until full vaccination

“With our U.S. teams in the West Coast League already well into their 2021 season, and with the border still closed, it will be impossible for us to ramp up any kind of regular season,” Swanson said in a release. “But we are exploring some kind of exhibition series between our two teams, albeit altered from what we’ve been proud to put on the field for so many years.”

Swanson said any plans for future exhibitions will be announced at a later date.

The HarbourCats announced in April that too many pandemic-related factors – such as high COVID-19 case numbers at the time, provincial restrictions and the ongoing Canada-U.S. border closure – worked against them being able to compete in this summer’s season.

Tuesday’s news of the province reopening further came long after the team hoped to hear good news.

“Unfortunately, it is too little, too late for sports teams like the Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls, who had to make critical business decisions two months ago,” the release said. That included releasing signed players so they could play elsewhere this season.

Assembling a team quickly to start playing games was just not going to happen, but the team is planning to release its 2022 season schedule in October and expects tickets to be in high demand.

“The fact that fans will be itching to get to a game after a two-year absence, it could be a record-setting attendance year at Wilson’s Group Stadium in Victoria,” the release stated.

READ: No at-bats for Victoria HarbourCats, Nanaimo NightOwls this season due to COVID-19


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BaseballVictoria HarbourCatsWest Coast League