The dog days of summer have brought major disappointment for the Missoula Osprey and their fans.

The quietest August in franchise history — at least when it comes to home games — became even quieter with the announcement that Tuesday and Wednesday contests at Ogren-Allegiance Park were moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho. That makes six home games in a row, counting four over the weekend, that were lost because of poor outfield conditions.

The Osprey haven't played a game at home since Aug. 3. They're "very confident" they'll be hosting the Billings Mustangs next Tuesday, with a promotion planned for fans that have lost out and another designed to spur the community to rally behind the team.

"One of the landscaping crews we've had out this week was able to pull some strings and find someone to cut about 4,000 square feet of new sod," Osprey marketing director Taylor Rush told the Missoulian. "That's going to allow us to repair the damaged area in right-center field much more appropriately.

"We're close as is. But this will put us in a position where I can say we're confident."

Tuesday's and Wednesday's games were moved due to soggy conditions in the outfield. An area in right center suffered considerable damage during the Mumford & Sons concert, held on drenched grounds following a torrential downpour, on Aug. 11.

The Osprey and their contractors put in an 18-hour work day Monday. They addressed trapped moisture by removing sod in select areas and applying a drying agent.

"We had a walk through when our manager (and Diamondback officials) got back from Great Falls at 1:30 (Tuesday) morning," said Rush, referring to O's skipper Juan Francia. "They said it was close, but they weren't confident enough to send Idaho Falls here and have there be a chance to not play the game."

Osprey vice president Matt Ellis indicated in a press release Tuesday the area that was under the stage for the Mumford & Sons concert was still a concern.

“It is too soft for players to run through and make a play without fear of injury,” Ellis said.

The loss of six home games has had a resounding effect that goes beyond the disappointment of the fans, players and coaches. Game-day employees of the Osprey rely on money earned from home games for supplemental income.

"But the thing that as a front office we're most compassionate toward is the 100 little kids a night that come out to get excited to watch a baseball game," Rush said. "It's more than revenue. It's about community impact. We're not letting people have those experiences, and that hurts." 

The Osprey swept a doubleheader in Great Falls on Monday in games that were slated for Missoula. The O's will play doubleheaders in Great Falls again on Friday and Sunday to make up for the other lost home games.

Missoula will conclude its regular-season home schedule with a five-game home stand starting Tuesday.

“We thank our fans for their support and patience,” Ellis said. “We ask our fans to come out and support our team for the final regular season home stand.”

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Bill Speltz is in his 13th year as Missoulian Sports Columnist. He also guides the sports dept., scheduling day-to-day coverage. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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