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3 independent Canadian baseball teams sidelined due to border closure

The three Canadian teams in the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league, won’t be taking part in the 2021 season.

Due to the uncertainty around when the border will reopen, the Quebec Capitales, based in Quebec City, the Trois-Rivières Aigles and the Ottawa Titans will be sidelined this year, the league announced Saturday.

Instead, a Quebec team made up of Canadian players from the rosters of three teams, and led by Capitales manager Patrick Scalabrini, will play against the U.S.-based teams on the road for the first half of the season.

The team’s first game will be May 27, against the Gateway Grizzlies, based in a town just outside St. Louis.

If the border reopens, the team will play up to 28 home games at Stade Canac in Quebec City and Stade Quillorama in Trois-Rivières. If the border has not reopened by July 23, those games will be played at the opponent’s stadium, the statement said.

The non-Canadian players on the three Canadian teams will be made available to the U.S.-based teams in a draft, which will take place Thursday, the league said.

Survival concerns

The Capitales and Aigles joined the Frontier League in 2019 following a merger with the Can-Am League.

The Ottawa Titans were created after the Ottawa Champions were left out when the two leagues merged. This year would have been the Titans’ inaugural season.

The league is made up of teams in the northeastern and midwestern U.S. as well as the Canadian clubs. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Ottawa Titans will play at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton baseball stadium, the former home of the Ottawa Champions. (Jennifer Beard/CBC)

Michel Laplante, president of the Capitales, has said he is worried about whether the league’s Canadian teams would survive if this season was also cancelled.

He said his franchise lost $450,000 last year. In March, Quebec City gave the team a $200,000 grant to help it stay afloat.

Some Canadian professional sports teams have been forced to relocate due to the Canada-U.S. border closure.

The Toronto Blue Jays are playing home games at their spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., for the time being. One of their minor league affiliates, the Vancouver Canadians, will open its season in a suburb of Portland, Ore.

The Toronto Raptors are also in Florida, playing out of Amalie Arena in Tampa.

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