FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Minor League Baseball was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but there will be a 2021 season in Indianapolis, South Bend and Fort Wayne.
“We have not played since Labor Day of 2019,” said Fort Wayne Tincaps president Mike Nutter.
Last year was hard for all three minor league teams in Indiana, especially financially. The Tincaps lost out on millions of dollars.
“We are in an industry where you capture 80 to 90 percent of your revenues in a five-month span,” Nutter said. “Each of the three teams did what we could to keep people around and keep things going. In our case specifically, we had to furlough just about everybody on staff.”
Those employees at Parkview Field are back though, gearing up for the 2021 Tincaps season. They’ve actually had a “spring training” of their own lately, as they’ve been hosting college and high school baseball games this month.
“We figured if the Tincaps season doesn’t start until May 4, could we make the day, or the year, for some of the local college and high school teams, and kids, that lost their season last year like we did,” Nutter said. “They’re happy just to be playing anywhere, but to get to play at this ballpark is pretty amazing.”
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH TINCAPS PRESIDENT MIKE NUTTER:
Fans attending those college and high school games at Parkview Field this month have been required to still wear masks, which is the plan for Tincaps games as well. Nutter says in Allen County, the health department isn’t requiring masks anymore, following the state’s lift of the mandate, but many businesses around Fort Wayne are still requiring guests to wear them, and that will be the case at Parkview Field, at least to start the season.
“We want to be part of the solution,” Nutter explained. “And we want to make sure we don’t become a hot-button spot for the spread of it or anything like that.”
Nutter says another reason is because MLB is requiring marks at all major league ballparks around the country as well.
The Tincaps will also start the season with limited attendance, allowing 3,000 socially-distant fans for all games in May.
“That is socially-distanced, that is in pods where people can feel 100 percent comfortable and safe,” Nutter said. “We hope in June, maybe capacity can be higher. We hope that in July, there’s a chance that it’s higher or totally open. Will masks still be required by Major League Baseball? I’m not sure at this point.”
The Tincaps average around 6,000 fans per game, but after having zero throughout all of 2020, Nutter says he’ll gladly take 3,000 for now.
“It’ll be awesome, but it’ll be a hybrid in 2021, and I think it won’t be until 2022 until everything is quote-on-quote ‘normal’ again, but I still think we can still have a very, very successful 2021 season.”
Single-game tickets for the Fort Wayne Tincaps will go on sale next week.