02.27.20

Blumenthal, Capito Lead Bipartisan Group Of Senators Working To Save Minor League Baseball Teams

. . . MLB has proposed eliminating or demoting 42 teams

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 27, 2020) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today led a bipartisan group of United States Senators introducing a resolution supporting Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and their efforts to fight Major League Baseball’s (MLB) proposed elimination or demotion of 42 MiLB clubs, including the Norwich (CT) Sea Unicorns, Lowell (MA) Spinners, West Virginia Power, Bluefield (WV, VA) Blue Jays, and Princeton (WV) Rays.

“Our resolution sends a sharp signal to Major League Baseball - shuttering minor league teams like the Sea Unicorns is unacceptable. Communities depend on such teams for jobs and small business vitality. Young fans learn there to love and play America’s pastime. MLB is putting finances above fans. If MLB moves ahead with this shortsighted misguided plan, our resolution signals there will be consequences,” said Blumenthal.

“For dozens of years, Minor League Baseball’s legacy and tradition has run deep in West Virginia. The game has fostered players on their way to the majors and in pursuit of their dreams of playing professional baseball. The franchises who call West Virginia home enhance our towns by providing affordable entertainment to families and partnering with schools and sports leagues to promote the national pastime. I hope that this resolution will continue to encourage dialogue and partnership so that the relationships that have been built over decades can continue,” said Capito.

“Minor league baseball teams provide friends and families an affordable day or night at the park enjoying America’s pastime.  These teams are cherished parts of their communities and towns, and as a baseball fan myself, I’m proud to join this bipartisan resolution supporting our minor league teams,” Durbin said.

“I am proud to support our Lowell Spinners and Minor League baseball teams across the country. Minor League Baseball has a long history of offering affordable family fun across the country, as well as partnering with local communities to boost culture, charity, and economic opportunities.  Major League Baseball’s proposed elimination of the Lowell Spinners’ affiliation with its league would cause significant economic damage and undermine the great cultural importance of the team to the City of Lowell.  We must preserve minor league baseball and fight back against these and any attempts to harm this cherished institution,” said Markey.

“Minor League Baseball has long been a source of affordable family entertainment.  Like teams all over the country, the Vermont Lake Monsters team receives outstanding community support, while in turn doing much to support the community.  In 2019 the New York Penn League honored the Lake Monsters with its Vincent McNamara Outstanding Club Award, recognizing the team’s many contributions to Vermont and for its ‘exceptional standards of the complete baseball franchise.’  The initial proposed minor league reorganization seems to establish a second tier of teams that jeopardizes local fan interest in the national pastime and the possibility of teams moving away from communities where baseball is an integral part of their summer cultures,” said Leahy.

“New Jersey has a rich and celebrated history with America’s pastime beginning with Hoboken’s Elysian Fields serving as the Birthplace of Baseball.  Storied franchises like the Newark Bears and Eagles, legends of the game like Yogi Berra and Larry Doby and more modern greats like Mike Trout and Todd Frazier all called New Jersey home. Our minor league teams continue to entertain families, inspire young people and contribute to the local economy.  For the sake of their fans, players and employees, I join my Senate colleagues in encouraging Major League Baseball to recognize the indispensable role their affiliates play in our communities and to reconsider its plans to eliminate or demote any minor league teams,” said Menendez. 

“As a lifelong baseball fan, I know what the sport means to our state and how proud we are of our Ohio teams as we rally together to support local clubs like the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. For 20 years, the Scrappers have been a staple of summers in the region, launching the careers of MLB stars and bringing Valley families together. I will continue to call on the MLB to do the right thing and work with state and local leaders to keep baseball in the Valley and in local communities across the country,” said Brown.

“Baseball is part of our country’s rich history. Growing up and going to baseball games with your friends and family is something that Americans all across the country have in common. I want Iowans to continue to have access to Minor League Baseball. Each and every team in the state plays an important role in their communities. I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues and support this resolution standing with our Minor League teams,” Grassley said.

"The Spinners have brought decades of memories and fun to families across our Commonwealth, and bring jobs and economic development to Lowell,” “I strongly oppose the MLB's proposal to strip America's minor-league teams of their major-league affiliations. It would hurt communities across the country and disappoint fans of the game everywhere,” said Warren.

“Minor League Baseball brings families together to build memories around America’s pastime. The presence of teams in places like Bristol, Danville, and Bluefield supports the local economy, and we should keep it that way,” said Kaine.

The resolution calls on the Senate to:

  • Support the preservation of Minor League Baseball clubs in 160 communities across the United States;
  • Recognizes the unique social, economic, and historical contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to the lives and culture of the people of the United States; and
  • Encourages the continuation in 160 communities across the United States of the 117-year foundation of Minor League Baseball through the continued affiliation of the Minor League Baseball clubs in those communities with Major League Baseball.

Along with Blumenthal and Capito, U.S. Senators cosponsoring the resolution include: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tom Cotton (R-AR).

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The full text of the letter of the resolution can be found below:

Whereas, each season for 15 consecutive years, more than 40,000,000 fans have attended a Minor League Baseball game;

Whereas Minor League Baseball provides wholesome, affordable entertainment in 160 communities throughout the United States;

Whereas, in 2018, Minor League Baseball clubs—

(1) donated more than $45,000,000 in cash and in-kind gifts to the communities in which those clubs were located; and

(2) completed more than 15,000 volunteer hours;

Whereas the economic stimulus and development provided by Minor League Baseball clubs extends beyond the cities and towns where Minor League Baseball games are played to a wide range of diverse geographic areas in which 80 percent of the people of the United States are located;

Whereas Minor League Baseball is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion through—

(1) the Copa de la Diversio1n initiative;

(2) the MiLB Pride initiative;

(3) the Fostering Inclusion through Education and Leadership Development Program (commonly known as the “FIELD Program”); and

(4) the Women in Baseball Leadership initiative;

Whereas Minor League Baseball is the first touchpoint with the “national pastime” for millions of youth, and the only touchpoint for youth located in communities far from cities in which Major League Baseball clubs are located;

Whereas Congress has enacted numerous statutory exemptions and immunities to preserve and sustain—

(1) a system for Minor League Baseball; and

(2) the relationship between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball;

Whereas the proposed abandonment of 42 Minor League Baseball clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate communities, bond purchasers, and other stakeholders that rely on the economic stimulus that those Minor League Baseball clubs provide;

Whereas Minor League Baseball facilities not only house the affiliated team, but also serve as venues for community events and other sporting competitions;

Whereas Minor League Baseball clubs enrich the lives of millions of people in the United States each year through economic, social, cultural, and charitable contributions; and

Whereas the preservation of Minor League Baseball clubs in 160 communities across the United States is in the public interest, as those clubs will continue to provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment to those communities: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) supports the preservation of Minor League Baseball clubs in 160 communities across the United States;

(2) recognizes the unique social, economic, and historical contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to the lives and culture of the people of the United States; and

(3) encourages the continuation in 160 communities across the United States of the 117-year foundation of Minor League Baseball through the continued affiliation of the Minor League Baseball clubs in those communities with Major League Baseball.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693