Nov 27, 2019

Small cities fight back against MLB proposal to cut minor league teams

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."

Go deeper: Labor unrest lurks as free agency begins in the MLB

Go deeper

Podcast: Bernie's baseball battle

Major League Baseball recently announced plans to sever its relationships to 42 minor league teams, sparking bipartisan protest from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Dan digs in with Axios Sports Editor Kendall Baker.

Go deeper: MLB's plan to overhaul its minor league system

Keep ReadingArrowDec 12, 2019

MLB's plan to overhaul its minor league system

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As part of MLB's desire to overhaul the minor league system and streamline player development, it wants to sever its parent-club relationship with 42 minor league teams, entirely eliminating some and reorganizing others into a lower-quality "Dream League."

Why it matters: Major league clubs currently provide and pay for the farm club's players and staff, leaving the minor league organization to cover things like fields, equipment and travel.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019 - Sports

Arena Football League shuts down after filing for bankruptcy

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arena Football League is shutting down after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the league announced Wednesday.

The big picture: The league had operated for 32 years, but had been "evaluating potential strategic operations before making the decision to suspend operations" this year. Sources told Axios in July that the league had sought capital funding and was planning on adding two franchises per year for three years with an emphasis on markets with legal sports betting.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019