The Niagara Power will not defend their New York Collegiate Baseball League championship this summer.
The Power announced the cancellation of their 2020 season on Thursday, making a decision to place the health of the public above attempting to play whatever games the coronavirus outbreak may have eventually allowed.
"After considering the risks of bringing college players from across the country to Niagara Falls during this uncertain time, it was determined that it was in the program’s best interest to make this unfortunate decision," said a statement posted to the team's website.
The Power join a few other NYCBL teams in sitting out, though the league has yet to make its decision on the upcoming season. Like most collegiate leagues, it's following MLB's protocol, which at the moment is delaying the start of summer collegiate leagues until mid-June.
For the Power, owned by Niagara University as a tool to gain hands-on experience for students in its College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, waiting for even an abbreviated season simply wasn't worth it without the promise of regular-sized crowds at Sal Maglie Stadium.
"There's some talk now of potentially not having fans in the stands," said Patrick Tutka, the Power's executive director. "Well, that defeats our whole purpose."
Tutka said players who had signed on to the Power this summer, including a strong local contingent, are now open to search out other teams. His focus will turn to keeping new head coach Stu Pederson, father of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc, around and building toward 2021.
The Power will also use the summer to build their relationship with their fans, releasing weekly podcasts and looks back at the championship 2019 season.
"We'll just continue to be as active as we possibly can on social (media) while keeping people safe this summer," Tutka said.