We have made the sad decision that we must end our 2020 spring season. As we said in our previous messages, we had been following developments and evolving recommendations, making plans to resume practices and start games with appropriate safety precautions. Two weeks ago Governor Cooper’s Phase 2 order seemed to preclude normal practices and games, but then a clarification seemed to offer hope that we might be able to conduct our baseball programs during June and July. We have been waiting in hopes that Mecklenburg County would allow its fields to be used in accordance with that statewide guidance, but the county has determined that the reservation system for its park facilities will remain closed until July. Without the ability to reserve the fields, we are unable to schedule regular season practices or games. Accordingly, we finally determined that we must cancel the remainder of our season.
We very much appreciate your patience, your understanding and your encouragement as we have tried to work through this difficult and changing situation. Many of you have expressed the hope that we would be able to salvage some sort of season and give the children and their parents a good baseball or softball experience. We are extremely disappointed with this outcome, and we know you are too.
Like many organizations, MPTLL’s financial situation has been severely affected by the shutdown. Most of the league’s expenses are “fixed,” and player participation and team/sign sponsorship fees cover both the fixed costs and the costs directly associated with each season. The fixed costs include maintenance on 13 fields (which we must do pursuant to our contract with the county, as well as to keep the fields playable), insurance, charter fees to Little League International, and principal and interest payments on our loan with BB&T/Truist. So far as our direct costs for this year’s spring season, we had already paid for the uniforms for all teams, for baseballs and softballs, and for some team equipment such as catchers gear. In fact, baseballs and softballs were distributed to the coaches. We hope that we will be able to use some of the balls and most of the uniforms in the fall or next spring, but the money for these items has been spent, obviously reducing the League’s cash on hand. Unfortunately, the only costs that we will have avoided, by virtue of the cancellation, are the costs for umpires, trophies and team photographs. Because those avoided costs are only a small portion of our expenses, and because the shutdown also cost us by eliminating our concession-stand profit and rendering uncollectible some of our receivables, the League’s ability to provide refunds or credits of participation fees is limited.
We are currently working to determine how much of a refund or credit we can offer. What we know at this point is that the League can not provide a full refund to everyone who signed up and paid for the 2020 season. Our best guess is the refund/credit will be limited to between $50 and $100 per player. In fact, the refund and credit amounts, as small as they may be, are more than we can really afford, and will leave us scrambling to stay afloat. If any of you are in a position to do so, we would ask you to consider (1) waiving the refund and converting your participation fee to a tax-deductible contribution to the League, and (2) making an additional contribution in whatever amount you can.
To take the guess work out of the calculation, please visit www.mptll.org/covid19response and complete the form. You will be asked to select one of three options – 1) convert your 2020 participation fee to a tax-deductible donation, 2) accept a partial credit for the 2020 Fall or the 2021 Spring season, or 3) request a partial refund. We would like everyone to respond no later than June 10th. After everyone completes the form, we will know how many refunds and credits we need to process, and those numbers will drive the amount we can afford to refund now or credit to a future season.
We are looking forward to a fall season, and planning has already begun. In fact, we are considering expanding the fall program both in terms of the length of the season and the number of games played. Additionally, there may be an opportunity for our Spring 2020 Jr baseball teams (13 and 14 year olds) to play this summer. Stay tuned for up coming announcements on these opportunities to play ball again.
Again, thank you for your patience and support. Every aspect of this is disappointing, with the loss of a spring of baseball and softball, teamwork and fun being the most painful part. We wish everyone the best, and we hope to see you this fall or next spring, when we can get back on the fields.