There will be no Smokies baseball this summer

Minor league baseball has been shelved for 2020.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Professional baseball has been played every summer in the Knoxville market since 1956, but that streak has ended due to the pandemic. It’s also the first time since 1901 that there hasn’t been a minor league baseball season in our country.

Tennessee Smokies president Chris Allen broke the news to WVLT this afternoon that the situation with the virus was too much to overcome as baseball tries to salvage what it can from this interrupted season. Minor League Baseball has been shelved for 2020.

Allen told WVLT Sports, “I hate it for our fans and our community and I hate it for Minor League Baseball because it’s tough but honestly, it’s tough enough to get the Major League season off the ground, you saw all the trouble they were having imagine sending players all over the country to play minor league baseball.”

From a financial standpoint, it’s been a difficult year for the Smokies, who have had to manage staff and ballpark with little revenue coming in. The summer high school baseball league and things like the summer concert series at the park have helped, but it’s far from what it could be, given the crowds that usually flock each year to watch the pros play, ”We miss our fan base, we have the high school league going on here and you have the smell of the ballpark , but we’re missing the large crowds with our season ticket holders and the crack of the bat and just having the pro atmosphere and having the guys at the ballpark, there’s always something going on out here. It’s something I don’t want to get used to I’ll tell you that,” said Allen.

Allen also added that players are being allowed to sign with independent league teams, “If players want to sign somewhere, they’re still property of their organizational team, but they’re encouraging them to play somewhere.”

Smokies Stadium experienced its largest crowd of nearly 8,000 fans in May of 2017 and regularly draws thousands of fans each summer to what’s considered one of the nicest ballparks in the Southern League.

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