Weyburn Sr. Beavers set sights on 2021 season

The Weyburn Senior Beavers baseball club reviewed the 2019 season and are setting their sights on the 2021 season, after the current ball season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ball club held their annual meeting on Monday evening at Luffy’s Lounge at Tom Laing Park, after it had been postponed in March.

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As they move on towards the 2021 season, president Garnet Hansen said they will retain Corey Harrell as the head coach for next year, but assistant Drake Pilat will likely not be able to come back as he will be attending school in Winnipeg rather than in the U.S.

In regard to the roster, the team was able to compile a protected list of players, and have 12 players who at this point will be able to play in 2021 of the 26-player roster they were originally going to go with.

The team has been approved for the EchoLotto 50-50 raffle as the sole fundraiser they are permitted to hold right now, said Hansen. The raffle is live now on the Beavers website, as approved by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, with certain conditions in place.

“The way it works is we won’t be selling tickets in person, it’s all done online,” he explained, noting there will be a link on the Beavers website. The physical location of the buyer is important, as only a Saskatchewan resident can buy a 50-50 ticket, and to buy it online they have to be within the Weyburn trading area, or else they are directed to a 1-800 to make the purchase.

The trading area extends from Weyburn to the U.S. border, west to the Bengough area, north to around Sedley and out to Oxbow in the southeast.

Hansen said this will limit sales to an extent, as they are not available to anyone outside of the province, including Beavers alumni or other supporters of the team, but it will be helpful as people don’t have to be physically in Weyburn to buy the tickets.

The final draw for the big pot of money will be on Friday, Sept. 18.

Hansen noted they had to work with the SLGA to get this raffle in place, since fundraisers are generally only allowed for a team that is operating. They had to get a letter from the league president in support of the fundraiser, indicating that the Beavers are a team in good standing with the league.

Looking at the finances of the Beavers from 2019, the team had total expenses of $207,390 on the year, and revenues of $192,851, leaving a shortfall of $14,539. This was the opposite of 2018, when they showed a profit of $13,044.

Hansen said there were drops in revenue that accounted for the loss, most notably from the sports dinner, which dropped from $59,811 in 2018 to $22,038 in 2019.

There was also a decrease in game day tickets, which totaled $32,904 in 2018 and went down to $23,700 in 2019.

The 50-50 ticket revenues also decreased from $29,281 to $11,859, and poker nights decreased from $8,498 to $3,800.

There were some increased revenues, such as with sponsorships, which were up by nearly $9,000 in 2019, and merchandise sales which were up slightly from $17,356 to $20,057, along with grants/rebates.

There are a number of improvements on the way at Tom Laing Park to prepare for the 2021 season, including putting the roof on the fan deck located behind the players dugout, installing a new Internet cable and a line for potable water, along with improvements to the field turf.

The games last year were a poor quality on Facebook live, said Hansen, but Access Communications donated some Internet cable and Chad Kish has said he will do directional drilling to run that cable through to the media booth, and allow a much higher quality video and audio of the games.

In addition, Hansen has been in discussions with the City of Weyburn’s engineers and with Leisure Services director Andrew Crowe, and are looking to get a line with potable water installed for the washrooms and concession booth.

As far as the 2021 season, the intention is to have a 56-game schedule, but there are some uncertainties about some of the teams. Sylvan Lake, Alta., is putting together a ball team while Edmonton may not be able to field a team as the current team now has no field to play on. In Saskatchewan, Yorkton and Melville are both question marks, and are not teams in good standing with the league currently.

In regard to the sports dinner which had to be cancelled from April, the company which was lining up the speakers, Alomar Sports, is holding the $2,000 deposit made by the Beavers for 2021, and they will look at who they might be able to line up for a dinner next spring.

The Beavers were going to have Charleston Hughes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Blue Jays alumni Lloyd Moseby.

Team vice-president Jordan Szczecinski said she wants to do recognition of the companies which have kept their sponsorship of the Beavers, with their signs in the outfield and facing First Avenue by the diamond.

“It’s remarkable to see, even with the pandemic that we’re in,” she said.

“Lots of these companies have been long-time supporters, so it’s good if we can get it out in the community that we’re looking to do upgrades at Tom Laing Park,” added Hansen.

Szczecinski noted that many of the players they’ve had each summer have been involved in the community.

“It’s nice to see they are acknowledging we are significant members of this community, and it’s important to keep us around,” she said.

The executive for the Beavers are unchanged from last year, with Hansen continuing as team president, Szczecinski as vice-president, Peggy Gaab as the secretary and Ken Evans as treasurer.