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Staten Island Yankees fold, will sue MLB

Staten Island YankeesAfter being removed from affiliated ball, the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will fold operations and have filed suit against the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.

The SI Yankees were left out of the new Yankees affiliate lineup as part of MLB’s reorganization of Minor League Baseball, with new farm teams Somerset Patriots and Hudson Valley Renegades joins carryovers Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Tampa Tarpons. The folding of the NY-Penn League took away a home circuit for the SI Yankees, with the New York Yankees and MLB promising to help arrange a slot in the Atlantic League.

This was not a satisfactory arrangement, however, and the SI Yankees ownership announced the lawsuit today. From the press release:

Although we still have not heard this from the Yankees directly, it would appear from their press release that they would like us to go from the past arrangement in which the Staten Island Yankees were an affiliated minor league team of the New York Yankees — where we facilitated player development and brand exposure, among other benefits to the New York Yankees — to one in which we play unaffiliated baseball with no relationship to the Yankees whatsoever.

This would force Staten Island to field a subpar team with players that have no connection to the Yankees farm system. Additionally, this would require additional expenses including payroll for players, coaches and staff. Unfortunately, that additional expense and the loss of the connection to the Yankees in our shared city makes it impossible for the Staten Island Yankees to pursue this business model.

The best thing we can do for the community is to step aside and let others try to save baseball in Staten Island. While we have invested considerable resources into the development of the North Shore, and hoped to remain a piece of that renewal, we have not been offered support to create a sustainable business entity.

The decision comes after the commitment by New York City to spend $5 million in upgrades to Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

The lawsuit, which the team says was filed today, alleges the Yankees reneged on their commitment to keep a team at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, presumably dating back to the original construction of the ballpark when the city built MiLB ballparks for both the Yankees and the Mets. (MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, will become a High-A venue in the reorg.) According to the SI Yankees, a portion of any settlement or jury verdict will go to the Staten Island Yankees Foundation to be distributed to local Staten Island charities. In addition, all outstanding ticket purchases will be fully refunded upon request.

Here’s the most up-to-date information about the current affiliation status.

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