KAMLOOPS - Two years of planning and preparation could all be for naught if the smoke situation doesn't improve in Kamloops.
The organizers of Western Canada Baseball Championships will decide on Monday, Aug. 14, whether the tournament will be able to go as scheduled from Aug. 17 to 20.
The Kamloops Minor Baseball Association and the Western Canada Baseball Association have been in constant contact over the last week as minor baseball Executive Director Sean Wandler has been providing updates on the smoke situation. He says the final decision will be coming from western Canada baseball.
"With weather patterns changing over the weekend we will see where things are on Monday," he says. "At this point things are a go. Obviously with that said though nobody wants to put the health of any of these payers in question so that will always be first and foremost at the forefront of any decision that is made."
With the decision deadline so close to the tournament start date, he expects the event will be cancelled outright and not rescheduled or moved. Western Canada baseball President Terry Butler says they have discussed rescheduling, changing host sites, and several other options that they decided simply aren't feasible.
"In the end, the summary is Monday at noon I am going to talk with Sean and if the weather improves and we're good to go, great," he says. "If Sean comes back Monday says we are no better off, then we will most likely be cancelling the event."
Currently 350 hotel rooms are booked in Kamloops for the tournament and Butler says finding accommodations for that many families on another weekend or in another city is not possible.
"Kamloops has been working on this for two years and you can't just pull it out," he says. "What I told Sean is at the end of the day we are feeling for you guys and we want the championship to go on but at this point what can we do?"
Despite the grim outlook, both Wandler and Butler say they are staying optimistic at this point as Environment Canada is forecasting a change in wind pattern and some rain over the weekend.
In addition to Kamloops hotels losing out on revenue, a cancellation would be a financial loss for western Canada baseball as well because they have purchased medals and shirts and paid for fields, though Butler says those losses are secondary to looking out for the well-being of the players.
The tournament is scheduled to start on Thursday, Aug. 17, and will see teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba battle it out with a team from Kamloops for the title of best ball club in western Canada.
For more information on the Environment Canada forecast, go here.
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