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Community Viewpoint: Time to bring back our national pastime

Community Viewpoint: Time to bring back our national pastime

By Chris Jones

It’s time. It’s past time.

As winter rolls on and yes, as COVID-19 stubbornly holds on, it is time for us to “round for home” and bring this pandemic to the bottom of the ninth. Vaccinations are beginning to roll out, yes, we have a ways to go, but spring will be here before we know it.

With spring, and our emergence from this health crisis, will come healing. Healing from COVID-19 and from the isolationism that we’ve all surely felt this past year and, simply general healing from a 2020 that made the world feel it had gone 12 rounds with a prize fighter.

We all will certainly heal in our own way, and there are many things that will help us with that healing. But please know this: all across this great commonwealth, in a safe, detailed and long-awaited plan, minor league baseball teams will be ready to welcome back communities, to a safe, outdoor environment that will provide families within our communities a pathway toward this healing. Baseball can do that. We can do that. It’s time.

The Hillcats and Minor League Baseball and, quite frankly, all sports and entertainment facilities in Virginia, have been shuttered since March 2020. The sights, sounds and smells of ballparks, often the driving force of economic development in the summer for towns of all sizes, was abruptly halted. Memory making opportunities and good ole American quality family time has been paused for too long. Let us take the lead in showing you we can reengage safely. It’s time.

With plans in place, we are ready to do what we do best. We create memories. We create fun and provide entertainment. We manage and run safe events. It’s time to let Hillcats Baseball, and sports and entertainment venues, across this commonwealth, double-down on the effect of the vaccine and help the communities we serve heal from a devastating year.

The current 250-person maximum is not the answer. It fails to take into account the size, scope, and existing capacity of each and every venue. Quite simply, venues of larger size can, and should, safely manage more attendees.

A more simple, more prudent approach is a percentage-based capacity model. This would allow for measurable targets of expansion or contraction while allowing minor league organizations and other venues a runway for planning. It’s time. It’s time for dads to, once again, teach their kids to keep score. It’s time for moms to, once again, be taken on a ‘date’ to a ballgame by their kids for Mother’s Day.

It’s time for kids to … well, just be kids again. It’s past time.

We’re ready, the fans are ready, the commonwealth is ready. We are ready for a planned, safe, and measured return. (The Hillcats’ season opener is set for May 4.)

Gov. Northam, sir, we are ready for you to throw the first pitch towards healing. You can keep your mask on, we’ll have ours on too!

It’s pastime to bring back our National Pastime.

Chris Jones is the president of Lynchburg Hillcats Baseball.

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