Now that the Greenville Drive’s 2020 season has been officially canceled, team owner Craig Brown is ready to put the past behind him and look ahead to what’s next.
“I’m an optimistic person by nature, so even though obviously the season’s cancellation was very painful, having made the announcement allows us to put that in the rearview,” Brown said.
The news of the cancellation of minor league baseball across the country was announced on the afternoon of June 30, bringing an end to more than three months of uncertainty for Brown and the rest of the team’s players and staff.
What began in March as an announcement that the minor league season would simply be delayed grew into what Brown called “a growing sense of realism and pessimism.” By the start of June, as cases of COVID-19 began to spike again, Brown said he was fairly certain there wasn’t going to be a season, and it was now simply a matter of when the other shoe would drop.
The phrase “there’s no crying in baseball” doesn’t apply today. My heart aches for our Fans, for our Community, and our Staff. https://t.co/IQzrRag6Xg
— Eric Jarinko (@ericsjarinko) June 30, 2020
While Major League Baseball teams still intend to play in a limited 60-game series without fans in attendance, the sheer scale of the Minor League Baseball organization — 160 teams compared to the Major League’s 30 — coupled with the financial reliance on game attendance as opposed to television broadcasts made the decision to cancel the season inescapable.
Now that the season has been canceled, the question is: What’s next for the Greenville Drive and Fluor Field?
Brown said he and the team have been lucky that season ticket holders, business partners and advertisers have, by and large, agreed to roll over their agreements into the 2021 season.
“The support has been amazing, just how strongly the community has gotten behind us,” Brown said.
Calling Fluor Field “probably the best socially distanced facility in Greenville County,” Brown said he aims to pay that support forward by opening up the ballpark to the community for special events. Already the park has been used for two graduation ceremonies and some church services, and the Greenville Drive has partnered with the Harvest Hope food bank to provide meals for families. Brown said he hopes that’s just the start of the ballpark’s new role this summer.
“For instance, we’ve got some plans to have a movie night at the ballpark, where each family has its own circle to sit in, with food and beverage services,” Brown said. “Because of the surge in cases, we’re making sure to follow all the appropriate health guidelines, but we have a lot of ideas for how to put Fluor Field to use to give back to the community once it’s safe to do so.”
Brown said what upsets him most about the cancellation of the season is that people won’t be making memories of summer ballgames at the park.
“The smiling faces of the kids and families and fans enjoying themselves, that’s a significant motivator for me,” he said.
So with plans for the season in the rearview, Brown said his primary goal is finding ways to create different memories.
“Despite the fact that we don’t have baseball, the positive is it’s allowing us to double down on our commitment to the community,” he said.