On Wednesday, the West Coast League announced that its five Canadian teams would be withdrawing from league play for the 2021 season. The decision was made due to “continuing, pandemic-related border and gathering limitations.”
The announcement follows an earlier decision by the league to eliminate all cross-border travel and release an updated schedule. On March 25, the Kelowna Falcons announced that they would be backing out of the 2021 season. They cited the BC Government’s message that “there’s going to be very little change in the next two months.” The Falcons also expressed concern regarding the current Canada-U.S. border closure. Because most WCL players come from large NCAA programs in the United States, the border remaining closed would amount to a major headache for the league and its teams.
The Falcons are now joined by the Riverhawks, the Victoria HabourCats, the Kamloops NorthPaws, and the Nanaimo NightOwls in canceling their 2021 season. Edmonton, Kamloops, and Nanaimo are all forfeiting what was supposed to be their inaugural season. Speaking at RE/MAX Field, Riverhawks managing director Dr. Randy Gregg was “disappointed” by the news. “We’ve worked really hard to be ready to take to the field this June but the health and safety of our fans and the players must come first.” He took the opportunity to highlight some of the renovations taking place, including new turf and lights, as well as a planned upgrade to the left-field scoreboard. “By the time the summer of 2022 comes, this will be a fabulous place to come and watch exciting baseball.”
The club’s press release indicated that RE/MAX could still see baseball this summer. The team says that local baseball, softball, and slo-pitch organizations will be allowed to rent the facility following AHS guidelines. The club added that some high schools had expressed interest in using the field as a venue for graduation ceremonies.
It remains to be seen how or if RE/MAX Field can be used this summer, but one thing is for sure: it will not be by the Riverhawks. We can only hope that they will play their first game in the summer of 2022.
May Long Weekend, May 22nd through May 24th, is a weekend of such promise for so many walks of life. If you are an avid gardener, that’s the weekend earmarked for your planting. If you are a camper, whether for the wilderness or the wobbly pops, your friends already know that you plan to leave town that weekend. If you are a fan of local sport teams (the premise of this website), that weekend promises to disappoint you unless there is a very quick turnaround on this third wave of the pandemic.
Here’s your Edmonton sports calendar that is in dire jeopardy of being delayed or cancelled for a second consecutive season. Their proposed starts all hover around May Long Weekend.
The new tenant of Re/Max Field, the Edmonton Riverhawks, have had their league also pivot on their schedule as they recently announced an All-Canadian division to avoid travelling across the Canadian/American border. Will the players be able to cross the border or will the Western Coast League also be forced to follow the All-Canadian model? Originally the Riverhawks were set to take flight on June 1st. Their league has not released their reformatted schedule yet.
The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) has set Victoria Day as a “drop dead date” for the formal 2021 season. As explained in the League’s press release, Alberta would need to be in “Step 4” to avoid cancellation.
The Edmonton Football Team is scheduled to host a preseason match against the Calgary Stampeders on May 29th. There has been no official word from the CFL regarding the 2021 season. The presumption by the masses is that the league requires fans in the stands to stay alive and somewhat healthy so delaying the season seems logical. The presumption of this fan is that all the XFL/CFL merger talks are born of the nature of the CFL’s dire financial situation.
“Our plans call for the start of play this Spring – while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation’s progress against this pandemic… if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) – Canada’s “unofficial start of summer” for a full 28 game season.” That is a quote from the Canadian Premier League (CPL) Commissioner regarding the upcoming season. FC Edmonton had previously released a “health and safety survey” about bringing fans back. The league played in “a bubble” last year they called “The Island Games”.
The inaugural season of the Impact FC UWS is scheduled to begin on Saturday May 29th. The game is scheduled against the only other Canadian team in their division commencing the “Al Classica” tradition with the foes from down south. The 2020 United Women’s Soccer (UWS) League did not play in 2020.
OVAL DIRT TRACK RACING
“Allwest Powersports looks to proceed with the dirt oval track schedule at Castrol Raceway this summer. It will be wait and see what the government protocols are. We might lose some race dates but keep May 29th and 30th circled on your calendars. Phase 3 would have allowed race teams in the pit area and 200 fans following social distance rules like last year.” We know exactly where Ed Wiersma, the new promoter of the dirt track oval at Castrol Raceway, stands in regards to his season.
The Edmonton Stingers title defense was scheduled to begin on June 5th against the Fraser Valley Bandits. The team they defeated in the Championship Final. The Bandits are also the opponents in the Stingers first scheduled home game on June 10th. If and when the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) season begins, will they being playing at home arenas or will the league once again play in “a bubble”?
There is a fine line between being a realist and a pessimist. This article straddles that line so to finish on an optimistic note…Canada Day seems like a logical day on the calendar to believe all the listed sports above will be in action.
On April 3rd Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) President Duane Bratt released a statement to all member teams regarding the upcoming 2021 season. We will start with the “drop dead date” professed in the title:
“If by May 24, AHS has not provided guidance that would permit the RMLL to commence league play by the first weekend of June (June 4-6), the formal RMLL season will be cancelled and the RMLL Executive, in consultation with each of the Divisions, will explore the possibility of alternate forms of “Return to Play”.”
From the President’s statement comes the following assessment leading to the May 24 deadline:
“Alberta is currently in Step 2 of the government’s COVID-19 Path Forward. This restricts floor times to players 18 and under with social distancing and other restrictions in place …. Step 3, which would allow those 19 and over to take the floor in some form, has been delayed due to rising hospitalization rates. Step 4 would allow games, but some restrictions, such as cohort requirements, may still be in place during this phase. It is currently anticipated even once the province moves to Step 3, there will be a minimum of a three-week period before we can move into Step 4.
On March 17, 2021, Lacrosse Canada (formerly the CLA) announced that a decision on 2021 national championships would be made at their Board of Directors meeting the first week of May.
The RMLL Executive met on March 29, 2021. Based on the above information from the Alberta Government and Lacrosse Canada, the RMLL Executive passed the following (deadline).”
There is already an update to pass along and it is not good news. On Tuesday April 6th, Premier Jason Kenney moved Alberta back to Stage 1 amid raising Covid and Covid variant numbers. The Premier did not indicate a date to move back to Stage 2.
“Last Thursday, I said that if we just stick to our guns for a few more weeks, we’ll head into what I truly believe will be the best summer in Alberta’s history,” Kenney said. “If we just get through the next few weeks, that remains true.”
There are just over 6 weeks until the implemented deadline by the RMLL for this summer to include a “formal” lacrosse season.