A proposed Minor League Baseball realignment plan that would make the franchise a full-season team has stalled lease extension talks for the Hudson Valley Renegades (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), as the uncertainty creates a holding pattern.
Discussions between Major League Baseball and MiLB continue over the next Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), as the current arrangement expires at the end of the 2020 MiLB season. In those discussions, MLB has proposed a broad realignment plan that would eliminate 42 MiLB teams–including much of the existing New York-Penn League–while making some some short-season teams into full-season franchises. The proposal does not call for contracting the Renegades, but it would move the team–along with a few other current NY-Penn League clubs–to full-season Class A.
For the time being, the proposal is complicating a separate effort for the Renegades to secure a long-term lease extension for Dutchess Stadium. A five-year extension last year, which runs through 2024, included a commitment to fund ballpark upgrades, but it was made with the understanding that the Renegades and Dutchess County would open negotiations on a longer agreement that would include major renovations. However, with the outcome of PBA talks still very uncertain, the two sides do not want to lock themselves into an agreement that might eventually have to be reworked, according to the county. More from The Highlands Current:
The Renegades last year agreed to a five-year extension of the lease with Dutchess County for the 4,500-seat stadium after the Legislature approved $2.4 million in bond funding to replace stadium chairs and repair the concrete seating bowl and other surfaces. Renegades ownership at the time said that a long-term agreement was contingent on a second phase of improvements that the club would help pay for.
Those discussions are ongoing, but with possible minor league realignment looming, “no one wants to sign anything that could be changed,” said Colleen Pillus, a representative for the county.
A second agreement that is important to the team’s future involves the Beacon City School District, which owns the land under Dutchess Stadium and leases it to the county. In 2018 and this past October, the school board approved one-year extensions of the $29,000 annual lease while the sides negotiate a long-term deal. The county and district are waiting to receive an appraisal of the land beneath the stadium and 21 undeveloped acres adjacent to it before proceeding, said school board President Anthony White.
Even with the franchise avoiding contraction under the current proposal, the uncertainty over the next PBA clearly creates some logistical complications for the Renegades and Dutchess County. If plans for the team under the proposal moved forward, the two sides would have to account for the ballpark being used for more home games and, in all likelihood, higher facility standards that could be outlined in the next PBA. It is also an example of the broader implications of the negotiations over the PBA, as teams and local governments have to brace for the possibility that the MiLB landscape could be drastically different in the coming years.
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