KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) — For the first time in nearly 30 years, Major League Baseball opening day games are being cancelled over a labor dispute. Opening day has been delayed and a total of at least 91 games are being scrapped because of the labor dispute.
But preparations are underway at Smokies Stadium as the Tennessee Smokies look to start their 2022 season this April.
“Major League Baseball negotiations do not affect us whatsoever here in Kodak, Tennessee,” said Tennessee Smokies Director of Marketing and Entertainment Aris Theofanopoulos. “The Tennessee Smokies are excited and proud to have opening day right here at Smokies Stadium.”
As Smokies staff get the stadium and field ready for the season, negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are on pause. The collective bargaining agreement between to two organizations expired in December and the clock continues to tick for a new one.
“Like all baseball fans, we’re rooting for a common ground between Major League Baseball and the players association,” Theofanopoulos said. “We just root for the best.”
Right now, Theofanopoulos says the Smokies staff is waiting for their players to arrive.
“The players will be announced around the beginning of April and should be coming in a few days after that ready for our opening day on April 8th.”
Team magnets will be given away to the first 1,500 fans on opening day at Smokies Stadium. According to Theofanopoulos, it will be a big weekend and historic season.
“This is a really beautiful ballpark and it’s held a lot of memories,” he said. “We had our second highest attended game last season in the entire twenty-one years of the ballpark, so we hope to break the record this upcoming season. We have a lot of fun promotions we look forward to having this year and really surprising our fans once we announce our promotions schedule.”
The Smokies will be hosting the Chattanooga Lookouts during opening day weekend.
As for the MLB lockout, it’s unclear when the league and players association will meet again.