The Flint City Bucks had grand plans for their season opener May 16 at Atwood Stadium.
They were going to unveil their 2019 championship banner and present all of the returning players with rings to commemorate winning the USL League Two title during the franchise’s first year in Flint.
Now, all of those plans are on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like every other sports league in the United States, the USL League Two is in a holding pattern as government officials around the nation try and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
And like everyone else, the Bucks aren’t sure what’s going to happen moving forward.
“Right now, we’re basically on a 30-day delay,” Bucks president Costa Papista said Wednesday. “We’ve been on a few conference calls with the league. The next call is on the 15th, a week from today, and in a perfect world, if we could we would start on June 1. Just push everything back.
“The next scenario is June 15 and if it gets beyond June 15 then I think there’s going to be some options that look more like an exhibition schedule and less like an actual league schedule.”
The Bucks moved from Pontiac to Flint last year and enjoyed a dream season.
They drew almost 5,000 fans to Atwood for their first game and they had to go unbeaten in their final three regular-season games just to qualify for the postseason. A 2-0-1 record moved them into the playoffs and they ended up hosting the semifinal and championship game at Atwood.
They drew 4,633 for a 1-0 semifinal victory over Golden State and then won the championship with a 1-0 victory over Reading United FC before a crowd of 7,198 – the largest ever to watch a USL League Two final.
Now, the Bucks don’t know when they’ll be able to celebrate that victory one last time before beginning their pursuit of the fifth national championship in franchise history.
“It’s disappointing but at the same time it pales in comparison to the more critical issue of the day, which is keeping everybody healthy,” Papista said. “Everything is up in the air. The league is following all the federal and state guidelines and looking at Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball for a little bit of guidance.
“I’m pretty well erasing May. I believe our best-case scenario would be starting June 1.”