Boys of summer not returning until 2023 to Port Arthur Stadium

December 8, 2021
Boys of summer not returning until 2023 to Port Arthur Stadium
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It will be another quiet summer at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, as its summer collegiate baseball team will stay off the field for the 2022 season.

The Thunder Bay Border Cats announced on Tuesday afternoon the team will miss a third consecutive season, with the decision made for them by the Northwoods League.

Border regulations and COVID-19 vaccination requirements were the two reasons cited by the league for keeping the team from playing.

The Border Cats are the only Canadian team in the league.

The announcement wasn’t a complete surprise, said team vice president Bryan Graham.

“It’s very disappointing. We want to play, we were prepared to play, we had over 20 players signed to contract to play this summer,” he said.

“There’s been so many ups and downs with COVID, and thinking there was a light at the end of the tunnel, we were really hopeful that we were going to be able to play again this summer and get back to baseball at Port Arthur Stadium.”

American players are not required to be vaccinated to play on a U.S. team, Graham said, so it became difficult to have players coming across the border to play in Thunder Bay.

The team has only played one season under its current ownership group, but Graham said there is a strong commitment to keep the team in the city.

“We certainly were planning to be here for the long term. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we’ve only played one season now, and that was 2019, and we’re looking at three summers with no Northwoods League baseball here in Thunder Bay,” he said.

“We didn’t get into this to only play one season.” 

The Northwoods League announced the Minnesota Mud Puppies, a temporary team created in 2021 to take over Thunder Bay’s road games, would be back in 2022.

“This was a difficult decision to make, playing the 2022 season without the Thunder Bay Border Cats,” Northwoods League president and commissioner Ryan Voz said in a statement.

“They have a rich tradition in the League.”

Graham said the Border Cats will be able to survive another season without baseball revenue, partially because of low overhead. He said the group is hopeful it can once again field a team in 2023.

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