With the Fresno Grizzlies agreeing to a Cal League move as a Colorado Rockies affiliate, the 120-team MiLB lineup is complete, subject to teams agreeing to a Professional Baseball License (PDL) when completed early in 2021.
The move by the Grizzlies coincides with a decision from the Fresno City Council to reduce rent at Chukchansi Park from $500,000 to $100,000 annually. In addition, the city will pay the first $300,000 of utility bills; the Grizzlies were previously responsible for the entire amount. However, the Grizzlies and the city will enter into a revenue-sharing agreement, with the city receiving 12.5 percent of the first $500,000 in revenue, jumping to 20 percent should profits exceed $500,000. And the pair will also share naming-rights revenues: the Grizzlies will receive the first $650,000, and the city everything above that. The current naming-rights deal expires at the end of the 2021 season.
The City Council is expected to approve the rent reduction and other revenue provisions at a Thursday night meeting.
The agreement comes after negotiations between the Grizzlies, the city and Major League Baseball, which had offered the Grizzlies a Low-A license. According to city officials, MLB will encourage teams to consider Fresno for Triple-A should there be any future openings, and in return the city and Grizzlies ownership agrees not to sue MLB. Any claim–for money, not for a place in Triple-A–likely would have been based on the argument that MLB’s insistence on a move to the Cal League diminished the value of the team, but there would be one huge legal obstacle to that argument: the Grizzlies and the city never had a contractural agreement with MLB, and therefore MLB has no legal obligation to maintaining the team’s valuation. In addition, losses would be speculative: PDLs have not kicked in, so there’s no way to determine the value of a team.
In any case, the resolution of the Fresno situation gives the Rockies a lineup of Albuquerque Isotopes at Triple-A, Hartford Yard Goats at Double-A, Spokane Indians at High A and Fresno at Low A. We expect a formal press release announcing the invites tomorrow.
The resolution also removes any slim chance the Lancaster JetHawks had at PDL invite. Now that the final 120 teams have been invited to the dance–and assuming no one drops out–we can pass along a list of those full-season teams booted out of affiliated ball after being in contention to make the final cut: Charlotte Stone Crabs and Florida Fire Frogs, Florida State League; Jackson Generals, Southern League; Frederick Keys, Carolina League; Lancaster JetHawks, California League; Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars and Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League; Hagerstown Suns, Lexington Legends and West Virginia Power, South Atlantic League. In addition, three NY-Penn League teams–Tri-City ValleyCats, Lowell Spinners and Norwich Sea Unicorns–had been holding out hope for MiLB affiliation, while the Boise Hawks will be moving to the Pioneer League while the Northern Colorado Owlz will be sitting out the 2021 season due to facilities issues. Tomorrow we’ll be exploring these stories as well as what still needs to be done to shape the 2021 MiLB season, such as final league lineups.
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