Kernels battle financial, derecho damage and affiliation obstacles, but ready for 2021 season

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Major League Baseball finished a 60-game regular season and is currently in the playoffs, but the 2020 minor league baseball season was canceled because of the pandemic. Here in Cedar Rapids, it’s still hard for many to grasp that no games were played at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Kernels are turning their attention to the 2021 season, but faces several obstacles after not having a 2020 season -- especially financial.

The team is currently trying to secure a $1.4 million loan with BankIowa to help get to 2021. The team pays rent each month to the city for the stadium and pays for upkeep. The Kernels are asking the city of Cedar Rapids to step in if the team cannot make the payments on the loan. The city council has set a public hearing date for Oct. 20.

Then there’s also the continuous repairs to the stadium after the August derecho. So far, the wall in right and center field has been put back up. The team is still waiting on bids to fix the scoreboard and one light pole. Scott Wilson, the team’s general manager, says that work should start sometime in mid-November.

“The outfield wall -- you walk in every day and it was kind of a gut-punch laying down,” Wilson said. “To have that now and it’s straight, perfect as always, that right there takes the ulcer feeling out of your stomach.”

Also, there’s the question of if the Kernels will have an affiliation next season. Major League Baseball is making some major changes to the minor league system, including cutting multiple teams. The Kernels have had an affiliation with the Minnesota Twins since 2013 and Wilson is confident that relationship will continue.

“They were some of the first people we got texts from when cell phone service worked again after the 10th,” Wilson said of the Twins contacting the team after the derecho. “Just don’t feel like we’d be getting phone calls or a $10,000 check for HACAP and derecho relief if that wasn’t going to be a going forward relationship.”

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