The Portland Pickles—Portland's favorite collegiate woodbat baseball club—are planning to play without crowds this summer, and broadcast the games online.
The team has submitted a proposal to both the governor and Mayor Ted Wheeler's office to allow the Pickles to host games at their home base of Walker Stadium in Lents. The plan has not yet been approved, but Pickles general manager Ross Campbell is confident it meets all of the state's safety conditions.
"As far as we're concerned," Campbell says, "baseball is on."
It's seeming more and more likely that Oregon—if not the country—will not see any more attendance at professional sporting events this year until at least the fall, if not winter, particularly after Gov. Kate Brown's announcement yesterday banning all large gatherings through at least September.
But that doesn't necessarily mean we won't be getting any sports at all. A significant caveat of the state's guidelines is that they could allow sporting events with no fans in attendance—so that's what the Pickles will try.
The games are scheduled to begin July 2 and go through Aug. 9, and will be broadcast live across the team's social media accounts. There are also plans to bring in "celebrity announcers" to provide commentary.
A few logistics need to be worked out, though—namely, who exactly will be playing. While some Pickles players live in the Portland area, others live elsewhere, and would have to stay with local host cities for the month the games occur.
The West Coast League, which encompasses teams in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, has postponed the start of its season, but in a statement on its website acknowledged that rulings in those areas may force many of them to cancel their individual seasons. Campbell says the Pickles may draw upon their developmental team, the Gherkins, in order to field enough players on both sides to have games.
As for Oregon's professional sports teams, a lot remains undecided. The NBA has not yet formally canceled its season, which would've been midway through the playoffs right now, though it has allowed teams in certain cities to reopen their practice facilities to players for voluntary workouts.
Portland's two major soccer franchises, meanwhile, are still hoping to find a way to play.
In a statement, the Timbers and Thorns FC say they "remain hopeful there is a path forward to play in front of our supporters in 2020."
"The Timbers and Thorns have been diligent in our adherence to the advice of local public health authorities and government agencies throughout the crisis," the statement reads, "and will continue to do so with the safety and well-being of our fans, staff and players as the clubs' highest priority."