Last month the British Baseball Federation (BBF) released the 2023 league schedules. The Herts Falcons were scheduled to play their home opener on 22 April versus the London Mets. On March 28th, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the BBF’s control the schedule of the National Baseball League (NBL) had to be redrafted. On March 29th, Herts Baseball Club notified the BBF that, when redrafting the schedule, the earliest date when Grovehill Ballpark will have the facilities to host an NBL game is 22 April – the date of their home opener in the original NBL schedule.
On 6 April the BBF released the revised NBL schedule informing the Herts Falcons that it has not been possible to fit all the games at other venues on 16 April and as a result have scheduled the Herts Falcons to play the London Capitals at Grovehill Ballpark on that date. Herts submitted a number of solutions to the BBF to address the issue including a swap of Falcons vs Capitals home and away fixtures.
Last night the British Baseball Federation confirmed its decision that all of those solutions are not feasible and the Herts Falcons have been ordered to play their NBL doubleheader versus the London Capitals on Sunday, 16 April, at Grovehill Ballpark.
This week contractors are carrying out renovation work at Grovehill Ballpark which is expected to affect all toilet facilities and as a result the games will be played behind closed doors. Fans are advised not to come to the venue. The event will not feature any of the game day elements planned for the NBL Pilot Project.
Another reason why Grovehill Ballpark will not be able to host fans on 16 April is that key components of the NBL Pilot Project such as spectator seating, catering supplies and contactless card terminal are scheduled for the week of the original Falcons NBL home opener on 22 April.
Opening Day is a celebration to mark the start of the new season, however it is not possible to celebrate it behind closed doors without the fans. The doubleheader this Sunday will not be treated as Opening Day.
For the Herts Falcons, the official Opening Day of the 2023 baseball season will be on Saturday, 22 April, when they will host the London Mets. The event will be ticketed and will feature all of the elements of the NBL Pilot Project and the festivities of Opening Day.
Now that the revised NBL schedule has been finalised, ticket sales for the remaining Herts Falcons home games will be launched shortly.
When we announced the NBL Pilot Project we received positive feedback from members of the BBF Board and we also noted that a semi-professional NBL was one of the goals in the “Our Future 2023-2035” BBF document. In the future we very much hope that the BBF will be able to recognise when clubs and their members are making an enormous sacrifice and are investing resources and time to raise the level of British Baseball on and off the field, and support those clubs rather than making it more difficult for them to make that step up.
This huge setback and disappointment does not diminish our enormous gratitude and respect for all of the work and time which BBF Board members and staff put into the running and development of British Baseball.