FOREST CITY — Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to delay moving into Phase Three while also requiring North Carolina residents to wear a face mask when in public sealed the of the Forest City Owls.

Plans to proceed with an abbreviated season from July to August came to a halt after Cooper’s decision on Wednesday.

“I am crushed, disappointed and feel like I have been punched in the gut,” said Phil Dangel, Owls’ owner, “We waited and we walked down every avenue to try to play this season, but with only 25 fans and to ask them to wear a mask for three hours is just not realistic. I feel terrible for the players, the coaches, and the towns.”

The season, originally scheduled to begin May 26th before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the start date to July 1st, sustained ots final blow once Cooper cinched restrictions. North Carolina is one of a handful of states experiencing a surge in positive cases for the coronavirus. The surge, also evident in Rutherford County, prompted Cooper to delay moving forward toward economic recovery.

Dangel said salvaging the summer baseball season was not feasible under the current circumstances.

“I cannot say enough about how Mayor Steve Holland, Dr. (Janet) Mason, and many of the Town Council tried hard to save the season,” Dangel said.

He expressed his gratitude toward the host families, sponsors and season ticket holders for their continued support through this year’s ordeal.

The team’s office will remain open through Thursday, July 2nd, with plans to return in the fall.

“We will still sponsor Elves and Bells,” said Kiva Fuller, director of operations for the Owls. “We are counting the days until 2021!”