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New Ulm Baseball Association changes its mind on state tourney

NEW ULM — On Tuesday night the New Ulm Baseball Association 2020 State Tournament Committee voted not to host the 2020 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament at the end of August due to health concerns to the citizens of New Ulm due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Saturday morning in a meeting with the Minnesota State Baseball Association Board of Directors at the New Ulm Country Club, that committee changed their minds and now will go forward with hosting the tournament.

“As a tournament committee, we have decided that we are going to continue being the host,” said New Ulm Baseball Association President Bob Skillings.

Both Johnson and Mueller Parks in New Ulm will be used as well as Riverside Park in Springfield.

Skillings said that at the Tuesday meeting of the state tournament committee that the majority of the members had doubts about safely hosting the tournament primarily because of health reasons for the community.

“But now that we have talked with the state board and have had time to look at the mitigation strategies that are out there to protect and safeguard health, we feel more comfortable about that,” he said. “Governor Walz has also opened up baseball starting this Wednesday, June 24. Games will be played and we will proceed in planning for the state tournament to try and make it as safe as possible.”

Skillings said that anyone entering a park be it player, umpire, media member, city worker or volunteer worker will need to sign a waiver.

“Masks will be suggested (masks and gloves must be worn by all concession stand workers) and we also expect that when games are over and another game is going to start that there will have to be an emptying of the park by everyone. Traffic areas will then be sanitized so there will be a little transition period that will have to happen,” Skillings said. “That will mean we are going to need more volunteers because of that and that will lead to higher costs for us because of that.”

Another aspect that may happen is the taking the temperatures of everyone entering the park.

“That is not required right now but it is suggested,” Skillings said. “The suggestion is that everyone take their own temperature before they come to the park. Taking temperatures of anyone entering the park is something that we will consider.”

Also the tournament wil be compromised financially because of COVID-19.

“We have been a standstill for about three months now wondering when baseball would restart,” Skillings said. “Second of all we rely on our local economy and rely on their support as sponsors and advertisers. We did not feel comfortable going out and soliciting those things from them now.”

Skillings did say that state tournament games may change.

“That is to be determined and now things play out in terms of schedule and the virus situation,” he said. “Right now everything is set up the way is was before but I am sure there wil be some adjustments.

“We got reassurances from the state board that we would treat the situation very seriously and take all of the measures that we can to protect players. fans and the New Ulm community.”

When asked if he was worried about a spike in COVID-19 cases in New Ulm and Brown County (which right now has a very low COVID-19 ranking) after the state tournament here, Skillings replied: “Personally I am concerned about that and personally I have some reservations about having a tournament that has a lot of people coming in from around the state. That definitely is a personal concern of mine.”

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