There will be no Western Canadian Baseball League action in the parkland in 2020.
Both the Yorkton Cardinals and the Melville Millionaires are taking a one-year leave-of-absence from the league with hopes of a return to action in 2021.
“As far as Yorkton is concerned the league approached us about taking a year’s leave to get our finances in order,” said Mike Stackhouse the Cardinals governor with the WCBL.
Financially 2019 was better, but the Cardinals still owe a considerable amount of money.
“It was break even or turned a very modest profit on the year,” said Stackhouse, adding that includes being current with 2019 fees to the league, and not taking on anymore debt on operations.
However, on the field “the product was awful,” said Stackhouse, in part because the focus was debt management not player recruitment.
So now the organization will have a year to address the accumulated debt, the majority to two creditors, a bus company and Erna Sobkow the widow of long time Cardinal manager Bill Sobkow.
“We’ve got to stay current with the league,” said Stackhouse, adding they want to get the amount owed to the bus company to zero and to get the money owed to Sobkow addressed in a significant way.
That means by April 2021 the Cardinal organization will need to raise about $75,000, he said.
It will help that in 2020 the team will incur no team costs, such as the billet fees of$400 per month per 25 players for three months.
In terms of fundraising Stackhouse said they want to offer supporters something in return for their support in the next year.
“We want to be able to offer events that offer something of value,” he said, pointing to a pig roast, a ladies night and a hockey draft which were all held this year.
To make the fundraising easier Stackhouse said the organization requires an injection of new blood at the director’s table.
“It requires probably 11 dedicated people to put in some time,” he said, adding in that regard a half dozen new people “who love baseball and love their city to give us a shot in the arm.”
Down the road another discussion Stackhouse said is likely to take place is to create a joint Yorkton-Melville team moving forward.
“Outside my role of governor as just an observer it is the way to go,” he said.
A joint team would address the need for volunteers having two cities to draw from, make finding billets easier and even help in terms of fans who would have 14 games a season to attend in each city as opposed to 28.
“When we have a six-game home-stand, I love baseball but there’s no way I’m going to six games in a week,” said Stackhouse.
Stackhouse said at the Midget level a joint team between the two cities works, so it could work for a WCBL team too.