GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. –
Monday, Major League Baseball and the Grand Junction Rockies parent league, the Pioneer League announced a major partnership ahead of the 2021 baseball season. “Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West. We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.””
In spite of the announcement, many details need to be ironed out between Major League Baseball and the Pioneer League. Most notably, the players and managers. Mick Ritter, President of the GJ Rockies, says the league and teams are still not exactly sure who will be taking the field this upcoming summer. “Players are… There’s a lot discussion to be had there. We’ve talked about the partnership with the MLB, potentially them giving us some players or helping us scout for players. We could get a partnership with the (Colorado) Rockies and they send us a certain amount of players. Or loan us some players, I guess you’d say. Or help us scout to find players to come to Grand Junction. I think that’s where the partnership with Major League Baseball really comes into play.”
What We Do Know:
- The Pioneer League will no longer be a “Rookie League”. The League will be one, of now four “Partner Leagues” MLB describes the leagues as such, “Each Partner League covers a different geographic area in the United States and Canada and attracts players of varying levels of experience. All Partner Leagues provide communities with high-quality professional baseball and share MLB’s goal of growing participation and engagement with baseball and softball.”
- The Pioneer League and MLB aim to kick off the season in late May and end the 92 game season in early September.
- The Colorado Rockies are still the majority owners of the GJ Rockies. While it’s true, the two Rockies will no longer be affiliated; Mick Ritter told us the partnership is still strong.
- Even with 8 more home games, the GJ Rockies are committed to keeping pricing points the same. Game ticket prices and season tickets will mirror 2019’s costs.
- Fan favorite game-day promotions including Friday Night Fireworks, Dollar Hot Dog Wednesdays, $2 Beer Batters are all on in 2021.
- The Orem Owlz are heading to Windsor, CO. They’ll now be the Northern Colorado Owlz.
- Details were sent out Monday to current season ticket holders about their plans.
No doubt there is still plenty of work ahead for the GJ Rockies and the rest of the Pioneer League, if the teams are to play ball in six-months time. Pioneer League President, Jim McCurdy told us, “We’re excited about the prospects of it. It’s our task to design an infrastructure, let’s say that lasts another 80 years… Right now the details are being worked out. There’s not a lot in terms of exact specifics, but I think it bodes for a great future and there will be professional baseball on the western slope of Colorado.”