U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) will introduce a resolution next week calling on MLB to anbandon its proposals to eliminate up to 42 MiLB teams, marking the latest sign of political opposition to potential contraction.
At a press confernece on Wednesday, Blumenthal stated that he and a bipartisan group of senators will introduce a resolution in support of MiLB that was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month. It comes in response to proposals from MLB to contract up to 42 MiLB teams, one of the ideas that has been floated as the two sides negotiate a new Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) to replace the current arrangement that is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season.
Blumenthal was joined at Wednesday’s press conference by representatives of the Norwich Sea Unicorns (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), one of the 42 MiLB clubs that appeared on a November list of teams proposed for contraction by MLB, and Norwich mayor Peter Nystrom. During that press conference, Blumenthal offered scathing words against MLB’s proposal, calling it “unconscionable and inexcusable.” Meanwhile, local officials continue their fight, as Norwich and the Sea Unicorns (the former Connecticut Tigers) agreed to a 10-year lease extension that calls on the city to invest $800,000 in Dodd Stadium upgrades–much of that aimed at improving player facilities–before the contraction proposal surfaced. More from The Day:
Blumenthal called the major league plan “unconscionable and inexcusable,” saying it would save only “pennies” while alienating fans, cities and teams….
Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said he continues to be in contact with his colleagues in the other 41 cities and towns with teams in danger of losing their major league affiliations. Nystrom will participate in a conference call Thursday with the mayor of the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners, the short season Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Spinners and Sea Unicorns both play in the 14-team New York-Penn League, which would be eliminated in the proposed plan.
The city of Norwich and the Sea Unicorns signed a new 10-year lease agreement to play at the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium last August, an agreement approved by Major League Baseball two months before news of the contraction plan surfaced.
Along with the agreement, the Norwich City Council approved spending $800,000 to upgrade the 25-year-old stadium with new LED field lights and planned renovations to the player clubhouses and ventilation system and extended protective netting for fans.
This is not the first time that Blumenthal has spoken out against MiLB contraction. Back in December, he said that Congress may need to reexamine MLB’s anti-trust exemption if the plan is implemented.
The November list of teams proposed for contraction came as part of an initial proposal that called for league realignments that include new Triple-A and Single-A circuits (in the name of lessened travel), new facilities standards (covering player facilities, including clubhouses, weight rooms and support spaces like kitchens and lounges), and a player-development arrangement that calls for rookies to spend time at MLB camps and not in entry-level leagues, with an additional year of service under team control. Discussions between MLB and MiLB negotiators continue, as Blumenthal’s press conference was staged one day before a meeting that was set for Thursday.