The Battle Creek Bombers baseball team announced last that their home schedule at C.O. Brown Stadium has been put on hold and their games will take place in Kalamazoo.  Could it be possible that the Bombers have played their last game in Battle Creek in 2020?   While team officials remain hopeful, without clarification from the Governor there doesn’t seem to be a way for any more home games this summer.

Battle Creek Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing says the team has been fairly proactive in communicating with the city, who owns and leases the stadium.   Dearing says the team’s COVID-19 plan for playing games at C.O. Brown Stadium was a pretty good one, but the hope for games from being played lies with getting clarification from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office.

“There are two executive orders, EO 110 and EO 133, in play as it relates to Bombers’ games in Battle Creek.  Executive Order 110 allows for ‘Outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions, or games, provided that coaches, spectators, and participants not from the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times during such activities’.  We have been interpreting this to mean that baseball players cannot play the game under standard rules because they cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another,  “ said Dearing.

Executive Order 133 allows “professional” sports teams to play with no live audience.  This EO addresses the issue of social distancing between players with the statement that “Participants maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with the sporting activity.”  The Bombers, of course, are not a professional sports team as the Northwoods League is an amateur league and they have been playing in Kalamazoo in front of a limited number of fans.

Dearing says they have twice received confirmation of this interpretation through the Governor’s office, but he says late last week there were indications from the state that, even though the Bombers are an amateur team, they could still possibly be considered a minor league team and play under EO 133, with a small number of paying spectators.  Here’s what the Governor’s office has communicated:

Executive Order, 2020-133  Restarting professional sports

Q: Does Executive Order 2020-133 prohibit minor league teams from playing before live audiences?

A: No. Instead of operating under the terms of Executive Order 2020-133, minor league teams may operate under the gathering, event, and capacity restrictions in Executive Orders 2020-110 (for Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7) and 2020-115 (for Regions 6 and 8), as applicable.

Dearing says city and county officials would like to get clarification from the state before they allow games to be played at C.O. Brown Stadium.  “The Health Department would like to be in a defensible position if they let play happen and receive complaints.  Play for this season has certainly not been ruled out for C.O. Brown, however, we plan to continue to work with the Health Department and the unified command team to get a definitive answer.”

The team's managing partner, Brian Colopy, says they certainly would still like to play some games in Battle Creek this summer.   “We are eager to have access to C.O. Brown Stadium soon. Until then, we are happy to be able to host our games in Kalamazoo for our fans and amateur baseball players.”

The Bombers have one more season left in their current 5-year lease with the City of Battle Creek.

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