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WCBL season cancelled ending the Edmonton Prospects run at Re/Max Field

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According to a contract held by the city of Edmonton, COVID-19 has ended the life of the Edmonton Prospects at Re/Max Field.

Until members of the Western Canadian Baseball League voted on Wednesday to write off what would have been a 2020 season, the Prospects were in line to play at the field in Edmonton’s Saskatchewan River valley until the end of the regular schedule or playoffs.

Now, since there will be no WCBL season, there will be no more Prospects in Edmonton unless a one-year agreement can be devised with other park operators that would bridge a one-year gap and keep his team here 2021. He has spoken often of work to be completed on a complex to be developed in the Spruce Grove-Stony Plain area slightly west of Edmonton in time for the 2022 season, by which time a group headed by Randy Gregg will have control of Re/Max.

“I think it would be mighty ambitious to promise a new park would be functioning in time to start a new season less than a year from right now,” Cassidy said in a telephone interview.

The Gregg group won its long-term contract although it has no team at present and has held no meeting with league president Kevin Kvame and other governors about obtaining one. Several involved citizens have advocated that the Prospects and a new team (perhaps the Capitals) ultimately could share playing dates, but Cassidy suggested such an arrangement is unlikely.

“A couple of deals have been presented for us to look at, but they don’t work for us,” Cassidy said. “We offered a deal to the Gregg group but they didn’t accept it, either.”

Evidently, those negotiations will continue into the future. In the meantime, all 10 teams face the necessity to operate with a 2021 start as their most optimistic possibility. Entry of a new Sylvan Lake franchise will add to the enthusiasm, as will the promising ownership and participation structure already taking shape for the Brooks Bombers.

“We had all been kind of hoping that we could start our season in a month or so and get maybe 20 home games for each team,” Cassidy said. “Always, the July 1 long weekend has been good for our league at the gate.” There also had been brief conversation about extending the season into August before starting playoffs – roughly a month later than usual.

“The problem is that every time we got some encouraging news (on lifting lockdown provisions), we got new and discouraging news a day or two later.

“There was not a lot of debate about how we could keep things alive with the information we had, so it was not a hard decision for all of us to make.”

President Kvame expressed regret on “a sad day for the WCBl, our 10 teams, 300-plus players and tens of thousands of fans in Alberta-Saskatchewan, adding that operational costs have been expanding as the league improves and shortening the schedule would only add to potential financial stresses. “We are a gate-generated league. We will mourn the loss of the season for a day or two and then we’ll get busy on 2021.”

The governors’ vote to discontinue plans for the coming season was unanimous, he added.

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Alberta

Keep your eyes on the road – delayed ‘spring’ highway cleanup takes place this Saturday

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Volunteers cleaning up Alberta highways

September 16, 2020

The annual highway cleanup, which usually occurs in the spring but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 19, volunteers wearing bright orange safety vests will be collecting trash along Alberta highways to raise funds for community organizations.

Motorists are advised to watch for the volunteers, slow down, obey signs and use caution when passing cleanup crews.

The organizations, which include 4-H clubs, Scouts, Girl Guides, schools, church organizations and other non-profit groups, earn $100 per kilometre cleaned.

Quick facts

  • Volunteers must be nine years old or older to participate.
  • They must take part in a safety training program and be under adult supervision.
  • Last year, the Alberta government contributed about $1.28 million to 740 volunteer organizations involved in the highway cleanup.
  • More than 18,000 volunteers collected more than 56,000 bags of garbage while cleaning up more than 13,700 kilometres of Alberta roads.
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Community

The Raptors (Ridgefield Raptors that is) are coming to Edmonton next summer

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At first word that the Raptors will be spending a few days in Edmonton next summer, sports fans might be excused for jumping up and down at the thought of a high-profile NBA event.

But the Raptors under discussion play another game — baseball — and they’re based not in Toronto but in Ridgefield, Wash., a small centre near the Washington-Oregon border which claims fewer than 10,000 residents in its Wikipedia profile. Edmonton — officially labeled the Riverhawks — is now a partner in the West Coast League, which develops college players and has seen several top prospects selected in recent Major League Baseball drafts.

Also joining this week are teams based in Kamloops and Nanaimo, bringing the British Columbia contingent to four teams. Victoria and Kelowna were already members of what now is a 15-team organization.

Teams currently occupy Yakima, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Port Angeles in Washington, as well as Bend, Corvallis and other communities in Oregon.

The city of Edmonton confirmed months ago that the Edmonton Prospects of the Western Canadian Baseball League would not be returning to Re/Max Field. Several years of association with Pat Cassidy and the Prospects had led to difficult feelings on both sides.

The Prospects are developing a new facility in Stony Plain. It will be ready for competition in 2022. Cassidy has said his team will find another place to play in 2021. All comments on next year and beyond are based, of course, on the progress of local, provincial and national fights against COVID.

Randy Gregg, the former Edmonton Oilers defenceman who led the new group’s campaign to function in Re/Max Field, unveiled his new organization at a well-attended news conference and said several options concerning the WCBL were considered but “there were continuing roadblocks.”

During months of negotiation, Gregg and his supporters did not communicate with the public. Neither did city council. “When you sign a non-disclosure agreement, you have to abide by it. Your signature has to mean something,” he said.

Gregg insisted the Riverhawks organization has no ill feelings about the WCBL. “It might have worked well,” he said. A few casual remarks were made about the potential value to this entire region if both the WCBL and the WCL are profitable.

The Edmonton approach includes sharing in travel costs for existing West Coast League teams. Similar situations made it difficult for a pair of so-called “independent” teams to operate in the years after the Edmonton Trappers were sold and Edmonton had no significant baseball.

Gregg is convinced the new load of travel costs will not be insurmountable. The Riverhawks are a collection of 28 contributors. He also pointed out that at least a couple of Edmonton’s new partners are owned or controlled by owners with major-league connections.’

“We’ve got a big job ahead of us,” he said. “We know that a lot of baseball fans have never seen a game at Re/Max Field.”

As things were unfolding between the Prospects and city officials, there were regular suggestions that no lease would have been granted for the WCBL in 2021. “Can you imagine what it would feel like to have no baseball for maybe three or four years in this great sports city?”

Last week our nation ran into a spree of high-profile miracles

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