The St. Paul Saints will begin their 2020 season on July 3 as The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball announced on Friday that they will play a 60-game schedule in order to provide a meaningful season.
Despite the announcement, the Saints will not return to CHS Field in St. Paul to open the season as the American Association will implement a hub city system until restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are relaxed across the league.
Instead the Saints will play at Sioux Falls Stadium, which will serve as one hub along with Fargo and Milwaukee.
“Our sincere hope, and frankly, our plan is to play baseball in St. Paul sooner rather than later,” Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer said in a press release.
“There were several contingencies discussed, but we realized moving forward with this system was both best for the league and for our ability to accomplish our primary goal of entertaining fans at CHS Field this summer."
Under the system, the league will use six teams at three different hubs. The Saints will be paired up with the Sioux Falls Canaries while the Winnipeg Goldeyes are with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo and the Chicago Dogs will be paired with the Milwaukee Milkmen at Ballpark Commons.
Meanwhile, the Cleburne Railroaders, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Texas AirHogs have opted not to partake and return for the 2021 season.
The six teams will hold a truncated spring training beginning on Monday and begin their season on July 3. 42 of their 60 games will be played at the hub stadium with 30 designated as "home" games and 12 against the other team at their respective hub.
The American Association will also try different rules during the season including the elimination of rookie, LS, and veteran minimums and maximums on rosters, and a draft of players from non-participating clubs.
While it is disappointing that the Saints will not return to CHS Field right away, the team is allowing fans to exchange any purchased tickets for a game during the 2020 season once they return or in 2021.
Until then, the Saints have been developing a COVID readiness plan to prepare for their return including socially distant seating, cashless payments and increased sanitation measures.