Any potential MiLB move would not happen that quickly, but Malliet says a move to the summer-collegiate Northwoods League or Prospect League could happen as soon as 2018, despite the team putting all-you-can-eat season tickets for a 48-game Frontier League season on sale earlier this week. From the Bloomington Pantagraph:
“We’re always looking to better our organization, whether it’s the Frontier League or another league,” Malliet said. “We do talk to people. We’ve even talked about affiliated baseball, too. It doesn’t mean we’re unhappy with the Frontier League or sold on another league.”
Also a part owner, Malliet said Normal’s board of directors will meet late next week to discuss the future of the team.
“A decision would have to be made fairly quickly,” he said.
The deadline to inform the Frontier League about a return is Sept. 15 (with a potential 30-day extension), and Frontier League assistant commissioner Steve Tahsler says the CornBelters have not registered a 2018 return with the circuit. And Malliet indicated no decision has been made:
“The Frontier League is a great league to be a part of. The Northwoods and Prospect leagues are very good. There are three very good options there,” said Malliet. “It would be hard to leave the Frontier League. It has been very good for us. There are a lot of positive attributes that would be very difficult to overcome for a college wood bat league.”
Prospect League commissioner Dennis Bastien said Friday he has spoken with Malliet.
“Steve and I have had several confidential conversations,” said Bastien, who added if Normal severed ties with the Frontier League “we would certainly look at them as a member of the league. They are in our geographic footprint. They would be a good member of our league.”
Regarding MiLB: Malliet says he’s been approached by MLB teams looking to have an affiliate in Bloomington-Normal. That is an extremely long shot: there are territorial issues with the Peoria Chiefs (Low A; Midwest League), and the team’s ballpark would need to be upgraded to meet MiLB specs.