ROSEMONT, Ill. (June 12, 2020) – For weeks sports fans believed the perfect time to begin the 2020 baseball season was the Fourth of July Weekend. America’s birthday, baseball and hot dogs have always gone together. Baseball fans were looking for a glimmer of hope. The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball is providing that optimism announcing on Friday that the league will begin play on July 3 with a 60-game season. In order to play a meaningful season, the American Association is implementing a hub city model. The Chicago Dogs will utilize Milwaukee Milkmen Stadium as their home ballpark until capacity restrictions for outdoor events have relaxed, allowing the Dogs to return to Impact Field.
The American Association season will run from July 3-September 10 with a Championship Series, consisting of the top two teams from the regular season, to follow in a best-of-five format. The league will consist of six teams based in three separate “hubs.” The Chicago Dogs are paired with the Milwaukee Milkmen at Ballpark Commons, home of the Milkmen. The St. Paul Saints will be grouped with the Sioux Falls Canaries at Sioux Falls Stadium. The Winnipeg Goldeyes are grouped with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field, home of the RedHawks. Each team and ballpark will have in place and enforce COVID Readiness Plans, approved by local Health Departments and Government Officials. In order to allow for safe social distancing while enjoying a live, professional baseball game ballparks will limit capacity.
With players around the country unsure of whether they would have a chance to play the National Pastime this summer, the American Association was determined to find a way to play. As players found creative ways to work out on their own, the league owners realized they could make it happen. A rallying cry emerged: For Love of the Game.
Whether it was a college player looking for their first chance at professional baseball or a veteran looking for one final moment, the league realized it needed to open its season.
Each team will play 42 of their 60 games in their hub to limit travel, with 30 of those 42 being home games while the remaining 12 as the road team against the other team in their hub. The schedule, which will be released on Monday, June 15, will allow any of the three road clubs to return home for games if local governmental restrictions allow for games with fans in attendance.
“Our sincere hope and plan is to play baseball at Impact Field sooner rather than later,” said Dogs Owner Shawn Hunter. “We believe this system is best for the league and for our ability to accomplish our primary goal of entertaining our fans at Impact Field this summer. We appreciate Milwaukee, Sioux Falls and Fargo opening their ballparks for us, St. Paul and Winnipeg.”
Six teams will not operate this summer due to the impact of COVID-19 in their local communities. The Cleburne Railroaders, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Texas AirHogs will suspend baseball operations for the remainder of the summer and return to full operations for the 2021 season.
A truncated Spring Training will begin on June 25, with Opening Day scheduled for July 3. The American Association will experiment with new roster rules in 2020, highlighted by the elimination of rookie, LS, and veteran minimums and maximums on rosters, and a draft of players from non-participating clubs to allow the best possible talent available to play this season.
Dogs fans who have purchased ticket packages for the 2020 season will have the opportunity to exchange their tickets for any game played at Impact Field this season or in 2021. The Dogs will keep fans updated on their possible return to Impact Field through their website, thechicagodogs.com, and their various social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, @TheChicagoDogs.
The Dogs have an extensive COVID readiness plan in place for Impact Field that is being regularly updated in accordance with CDC and state guidelines. Our goal is to provide a safe, healthy, fun experience for fans once we can return home.