Toledo Walleye opt-out of 2020–21 season due to COVID-19
“We are heartbroken for our fans, our players, our employees,” said Walleye President & CEO Joe Napoli.
TOLEDO, Ohio —The Toledo Walleye announced Tuesday afternoon that the team has decided to opt-out of the 2020-21 season as part of the ECHL’s COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension. The Walleye will return for the team’s 12th season at the Huntington Center for the 2021-22 season.
In November, the ECHL Board of Governors in conjunction with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association approved a February start for Toledo and Fort Wayne. Toledo now joins eleven ECHL teams who have opted out of the 2020–21 seasons, including Adirondack, Brampton, Maine, Newfoundland, Reading, and Worcester, plus Atlanta, Cincinnati, Idaho, Kalamazoo, and Norfolk.
“We are grateful to the member teams of the ECHL who gave us the opportunity to push the start of our season to February. We had hoped the extra time would be enough for the vaccine distribution to begin to take hold and to loosen the COVID-19 attendance restriction for indoor arenas to the point where we could safely play a significant portion of the 2020–21 season in front of fans. Unlike Major League sports that enjoy the benefit of national and international TV and streaming media rights contracts, the Walleye’s financial stability is dependent upon attendance and the generosity of local sponsors. After much discussion, we have decided to turn our focus to a safe, healthy and successful 2021–22 season. We are heartbroken for our fans, our players, our employees and the downtown Toledo neighborhood that depends upon the success of the Walleye.”
— Walleye President & CEO Joe Napoli