On the day big league pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, some good news for local baseball fans as the Bend Elks announced plans to play and host games this summer.
The Elks, Corvallis Knights and Portland Pickles announced the “Team Oregon” alliance with all three teams preparing to welcome fans in a “healthy, safety-conscious 2021 schedule of outdoor summer events.”
“Our communities count on us,” said Bend Elks owner Kelsie Hirko. “We’re a safe, comfortable, and family-friendly gathering place, and we hire a lot of part-time employees in the summer, along with contractors as well. We also attract visitors to our city and generate substantial business for all our vendors.”
All three teams play in the 15-team West Coast League, one of the nation’s premier collegiate wood-bat leagues. Teams are comprised of college players from around the country. In 2019, nearly 50 WCL alumni were in the major leagues.
Hirko said the team is preparing to play a full WCL schedule with opening day set for June 3rd. The current schedule has nearly 30 home games scheduled through August 12th.
“We are just uniting as Team Oregon to help show our local and state government that we will work as one to provide healthy, safety-conscious games and that we will all go above and beyond the local and state health authorities’ recommendations and guidelines,” Hirko said.
The Elks’ season last year was shuttered due to COVID concerns, but the Pickles were able to host 60 games with as many as 100 fans each night.
And according to the Pickles, there were no reported COVID-related issues among fans or staff.
“The Pickles are extremely grateful for our opportunity to play in 2020,” said Pickles president Alan Miller. “And we look forward to both integrating and advancing the safety measures we put into place so carefully last season.” ”
The team has shared its protocols with the Bend and Corvallis clubs as they all prepare for the 2021 season.
Oregon’s WCL teams drew nearly 160,000 fans in 2019.