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St. Louis minor league baseball team turns Covid-19 pivot into new business line

What was once a lifeline for the Hoots is now turning into a new business line
Credit: O'Fallon Hoots

O'FALLON, Mo. — When the summer collegiate Prospect League canceled its 2020 season, the O’Fallon Hoots didn’t let the summer go to waste.

Instead of sitting idle, the baseball franchise launched the CarShield Collegiate League, a six-team makeshift circuit it hosted from early July to mid-August at its stadium, CarShield Field in O’Fallon, Missouri. Letting the stadium sit empty all summer would have had serious financial consequences for the Hoots, General Manager David Schmoll said earlier this year.

But what was once a lifeline for the Hoots is now turning into a new business line. The baseball club has announced the CarShield Collegiate League will return in 2021, with plans for it to operate in addition to the Hoots' Prospect League season next summer.

“We have the ability to do it from a facilities standpoint. Once we saw what we could do over the course of this past summer, it was pretty easy to see this was something we could do long term,” Schmoll said.

The return of the CarShield Collegiate League could have major implications for the Hoots' business metrics. In a typical Prospect League season, the Hoots would host about 30 home games at CarShield Field. With the addition of the CarShield Collegiate League, the O’Fallon stadium is set to host games on 80 dates in 2021. That creates a dynamic in which the home team is “never out of town,” Schmoll said.

“There’s always something going on, always an event happening at the ballpark at night pretty much every night from the end of May to early August,” he said. “It could be completely transformative to the business to have that.”

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