IBL Provides Update on Return to Play

by Ryan Eakin

CAMBRIDGE - The province’s Roadmap to Reopening announced last week states outdoor leagues can begin to play at the start of Phase Two. If everything goes as planned that means the Intercounty Baseball League [IBL] will be playing baseball on July 5, albeit with restrictions.

That is good news indeed as for the first time since 2019, there is some light at the end of the long and dark pandemic tunnel. The news from the province put a number of things in motion for the IBL. First and foremost, the IBL is preparing a Return to Play plan to submit to the province as the IBL cannot resume without an approved plan.

The league has retained Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher to assist in the preparation of a league plan as well as a Return to Play plans for our eight teams. Dr. Rindlisbacher has also worked with the Ontario Hockey Federation and the NHLPA on return-to-play plans.

The IBL plan will include a myriad of scenarios around fan capacity and distancing, masks, the use of clubhouses and buses, concessions, and many other items. Additional good news is that Phase Three, if all goes well, could start 21 days later, on July 26, with eased restrictions.

Everything it seems is in pencil these days, but the IBL is working towards a start date of around July 5 with regular-season games into early September followed by a shortened playoff season.

Historically, the IBL has allowed each team to have four imports. That rule is still in place, but border restrictions and logistics may have an impact on teams being able to bring in players from other countries.

The IBL is also encouraging players, team staff, umpires, volunteers and even fans to get vaccinated. The response has been fantastic and it’s our way out of the pandemic and a path to get back on the field. Plus, besides being the right thing to do, vaccination thresholds are an element of the province’s Roadmap to Reopening.

In the weeks coming, the Intercounty Baseball League will keep our fans, players, and stakeholders updated with our return to play plan and the league looks forward to returning to the field.

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