WINDSOR, Colo. — At least one Pioneer League franchise is opting out of the 2021 baseball season because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Northern Colorado Owlz, previously located in Orem, Utah, and a member of the league since 2001, announced Thursday that it will wait until 2022 to debut in their new stadium, the Future Legends Complex.
In a press release, the team cited its desire to play in front of fans, which isn't guaranteed due to the coronavirus and ongoing pandemic restrictions in Colorado. The team's ownership wants to "prioritize the health and safety of players, fans, team staff and the community, and offer an unlimited positive baseball experience," the release stated.
The decision is supported by the other eight Pioneer League teams, which include Billings, Great Falls and Missoula, the Owlz stated.
It was announced in November that the Pioneer League would operate as an independent Partner League of Major League Baseball beginning in 2021. The league previously held player development licenses from MLB since its inception in 1939.