U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and MLB officials will visit NYSEG Stadium next week, a trip that comes as Schumer calls on MLB to spare the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Class AA; Eastern League) from contraction as part of proposals to eliminate up to 42 MiLB teams.
The Rumble Ponies were among the 42 MiLB clubs that appeared on a November list of teams proposed for contraction by MLB in its negotiations with MiLB to replace the current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), which expires at the end of the 2020 season. That 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.
The idea of contraction has been met with political backlash since it was released, with elected officials across the political spectrum at the local, state, and federal levels joining in the calls against the plan. Schumer has been among its critics, meeting with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in December to urge him to reconsider the proposed elimination of four New York State teams (the Rumble Ponies, Staten Island Yankees, Auburn Doubledays and Batavia Muckdogs). The senator is now slated to join MLB officials in a visit to NYSEG Stadium next week, according to an announcement from his office. He continues to call on MLB to spare the Rumble Ponies from contraction, and has pushed the league to meet with local officials and stakeholders. More from WBNG.com:
The senator’s office says other leaders will be there alongside Schumer and the MLB officials.
The visit follows Schumer’s letters and personal visits to MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. to urge him to hear directly from stakeholders and local leaders in Binghamton.
“MLB needs to steps up to the plate and play ball with Southern Tier stakeholders to find a solution that doesn’t strike out the Rumble Ponies,” Schumer said in an official press release sent to 12 News.
Notably, NYSEG Stadium is a ballpark that has seen its fair share of improvements in recent years, as the city, state, and Rumble Ponies owner John Hughes have invested $9.5 million in upgrades since 2014. In addition to fan-facing amenities, player facilities and playing conditions have been part of those improvements, including improved lighting, two rounds of clubhouse upgrades, new batting cages and bullpens, a turf replacement and more.