ST. PAUL, Minn. -- While Major League Baseball and the affiliated minor leagues are shut down, an independent circuit is set to open on July 3 with some fans in the seats.
The American Association said Friday its six teams will play in three hubs due to the coronavirus, at least at the start of the season.
Minnesota's St. Paul Saints will play home games at Sioux Falls Stadium along with South Dakota's Sioux Falls Canaries. Manitoba's Winnipeg Goldeyes will be based at Newman Outdoor Field along with North Dakota's Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The Chicago Dogs will play home games at the Ballpark Commons along with the Milwaukee Milkmen.
All three home teams are in position to sell about 25% to 33% of their ballpark's capacities.
A 60-game regular season is envisioned through Sept. 10, and the top two teams will meet in a best-of-five championship series. Teams will allow limited capacities of spectators, if allowed.
Each team will play 42 games in its hub, including 30 home games. A displaced team would return to its regular home ballpark if government restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic are relaxed.
Six teams will not operate this season: the Cleburne Railroaders in Texas, Gary SouthShore RailCats in Indiana, Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs in Nebraska, Sioux City Explorers in Iowa and Texas AirHogs in Prairie.
Training is slated to start June 25.
Major League Baseball's agreement with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the affiliated minors, expires after the season. MLB has proposed cutting guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 140 and also has discussed making St. Paul an affiliated club.