From concept to competition, the Sugar Land Skeeters have created a four-team league in just four weeks that is set to play professional baseball on Friday, July 10.
The Constellation Energy League was set to start this Friday, but on Monday was postponed a week due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and based on advice from our medical advisors, we believe it is prudent to delay the start of the season one week,” said Skeeters owner Kevin Zlotnik said in a news release. “This is not a decision our organization entered into lightly. We have spent weeks meticulously preparing for the schedule we had initially set forth and we look forward to a successful season. But our overriding priority is the safety of our players, fans and staff.”
A revised schedule for the Constellation Energy League will be made soon.
“We’ve received all the approvals to open this weekend and remain confident in our safety protocols, but saw no downside in delaying one week,” Zlotnik continued. “We look forward to seeing everyone on July 10 and in the meantime encourage our friends and fans to follow the safety guidelines set forth by our local officials.”
Each of the four teams in the Constellation Energy League were set to play 28 games for a total of 56 games prior to the postponement. All games will be played in Sugar Land at Constellation Field.
Skeeters manager Pete Incaviglia, the father-son duo of Roger and Koby Clemens, former Major Leaguer Greg Swindell, and former MLB pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Dave Eiland will coach the teams. The league will feature a mix of former Major League and Minor League players.
“This was originally (Roger Clemens) idea,” said Skeeters President Chris Hill.
Clemens, the former all-star with the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, made two appearances with the Skeeters with his son during the inaugural 2012 season. He pitched the idea of the league to Hill, who ran with it.
“The idea was we couldn’t pull it off until Major League Baseball cut contracts with minor league players,” Hill said.
The league is designed to give players sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic a chance to play and hone their skills.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being an organization that gives players another chance,” Zlotnik said. “Given the unfortunate releases of hundreds of minor league players over the last few weeks, we realized there was a major need for a league like this. Already, we’ve received commitments from guys with great resumes, former Major Leaguers, former first-rounders, and high-caliber prospects. I know people are going to be really impressed with the quality of play.”
Hill said social distancing and other guidelines are going to put a limit on team interactions with the fans, meaning no autographs or baseballs thrown into the stands.
“This is far more about baseball than entertainment,” he said.
For two months the four teams will play each other with doubleheaders on weekends and Mondays off. The teams are Skeeters, coached by Incaviglia; Sugar Land Lightning Sloths, coached by Swindell; Texas, coached by Roger and Koby Clemens; and the Eastern Reyes el Tigre (Tiger Kings), coached by Eiland.
“Their mascot will be a tiger with a mullet,” Hill said.
Hill said the names were chosen based on the uniforms they had available. Naturally, they have plenty of uniforms that say Skeeters and Sugar Land. Their uniform provider had jerseys for Texas and ones that say Eastern on them.
“We couldn’t get uniforms turned around in time, so we have to make do with what we have,” Hill said.
If you go
Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, there will be limits on fans who attend the games. For starters, they will not be able to select specific seats. Ticketing agents will assign seats based on social distancing guidelines, though families will be able to sit together. There will be about 1,800 seats available for each game, compared to the regular capacity of 7,500 fans.
Fans will have to wear face covering while entering and exiting the ballpark, waking on the concourse, getting concessions or whenever social distancing is not possible.
There will be hand sanitizer stations at the gates for entry and exit into Constellation Field as well as other designated locations throughout the ballpark.
The cost of parking will be included with every ticket in order to limit contact between fans and Skeeters staff.
The playground, splash pad, sport court, and inflatable area will not be open during games. The Bud Light Ice House, H-E-B Picnic Plaza, and Grassland will be open.
“We’re trying to keep the experience as safe as we can make it,” Hill said. “We’ve gone above and beyond what the state, county, city, and Memorial Hermann officials have advised us to do. The safety of our fans, and the front office and the players and game day staff are of the utmost importance.”
Tickets range in price from $9 to $49 and are on sale now at sugaralndskeeters.com/tickets or by calling 281-240-4487.