Reggie Lawson of the Peoria Javelinas. Photo: Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Small cities around the country are fighting a Major League Baseball restructuring proposal that would cut the league's association with 42 minor league teams, AP reports.
Why it matters: The cities argue that the teams are a vital part of their communities — and some have invested significant municipal funds in stadium construction and upgrades to draw in fans.
The big picture: MLB is renegotiating its agreement — the current one is set to expire in 2020 — with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.
- The minor leagues' current 176 teams that are affiliated with the NAPBL attracted 41.5 million fans this year.
What they're saying: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote that the plan "would be an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country" in a letter he sent to MLB commissioner Robert Manfred Jr.
- Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), whose district could lose a team based in Norwich, urged MLB officials to abandon the proposal in a bipartisan letter signed by 103 of his colleagues.
The other side: In a letter sent to Congress, the league said dozens of minor league teams do not have proper training and medical facilities, locker rooms and playing fields.
- MLB deputy commissioner Daniel Halem wrote that "the majority of major league club owners believe that there are too many players in the minor league system."