What's next for the Vermont Lake Monsters?
Wednesday, July 1st
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- For the first time since the franchise now known as the Vermont Lake Monsters first arrived in Burlington in 1994, there will be no minor league baseball played here at Centennial Field this summer.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced that it would not be sending players to minor league affiliates this summer, effectively canceling the 2020 minor league baseball season.
"We expected it to come, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow, certainly.", says Lake Monsters general manager Joe Doud.
The cancellation of the 2020 season, with it's 38-home games and lost revenue such as ticket sales and concessions, represents a significant financial hit for the Lake Monsters, but Joe Doud says the club has been able to absorb that blow thanks, in part, by being able to cash in on the team's iconic image.
"We've had incredible community, both locally and national, support with our merchandise.", says Doud. "We've had a lot of success which has been fantastic and certainly helped us out a lot."
Doud also says that, now that the team knows it has no season to prepare for, the club been coming up with other ways to potentially use Centennial Field this summer to help maintain the Monsters' connection with the community.
"This industry is based on creativity and uniqueness and fun. For us, we're working internally to hopefully be able to do some other events at the ball park this summer, given the guidelines and restrictions in place."
And with the 2020 season now lost, what about 2021 and beyond? The biggest story involving the Lake Monsters prior to the pandemic was that the team was one of 40 or so clubs across the country that were reportedly candidates to lose their affiliation with Major League Baseball.
It was reported by multiple sources that, as part of negotiating a new contract with minor league baseball, the MLB may be looking to significantly contract and reorganize the minor league system.
Those negotiations are ongoing, and the ultimate decision is out of the hands of the Lake Monsters. That can be a frustrating position for the team to be in, but Doud says his focus, and that of the organization, is on the here and now, and that the team is grateful for the support it continues to receive from the community.
"With the announcement yesterday, we've had a ton of outpouring of support.", says Doud. "Both publicly through social media and even personally, with people reaching out to us and saying 'hey this is a bummer' and 'hang in there'. We've been around for a long time and have never struggled in community support. We can't think the Burlington area, and the state of Vermont, enough for that, certainly."