Auckland Tuatara will skip the 2021/22 Australian Baseball League season with ongoing uncertainty around the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
The Tuatara sat out last season, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, just a year after making the playoffs for the first time.
The ABL says all 10 clubs have had to consider ‘what if’ situations, and having a team located outside Australia carries too significant a risk to players and staff.
The Tuatara say they have the complete backing of the league and the clubs, and will return to the diamond in 2022/23.
"It is an incredibly difficult decision to come to," says Auckland Tuatara chairman Noel Davies.
"It really hurt the franchise not playing last season, but in hindsight, it proved the sensible thing to do. It meant our players were not locked down in Australia and it protected ourselves from financial risk.
"Because we wanted to play in the league, we waited until very late last year to make that tough call and that put pressure on the rest of the league.
"This time around, we all agreed we needed to make a strong call early and that is what we have done.
"We are committed to playing in the ABL, and we know that by taking this step and going through this short-term pain, we will allow ourselves to be able to compete in the longer term."
Baseball Australia president David Hynes credits the Tuatara for making such a tough call so quickly and looks forward to seeing the fledgling ball club back in action soon.
"We applaud the early decision and we know it is the safest option for everyone," Hynes says.
"We saw what they are capable of in 2019/20, and we look forward to seeing the Tuatara return to the league next season and beyond."
Tuatara management hope to put together a summer baseball programme for Kiwi fans to enjoy around the country.
Newshub understands the club still intends to bring out high quality players - COVID-19 pending - with the Tuatara expected to play ABL franchises in exhibition games throughout the season.
The club is also keen to hold coaching clinics throughout the country during the summer months.