[WATCH] River Bandits Owner on Today Show
On Monday morning, The Today Show aired a segment about a small town in Massachusetts that is trying to save minor league baseball.
The current Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB expires the end of the 2020 season. Major League Baseball has proposed to contract 42 Minor League Baseball franchises- including the Quad City River Bandits. The plan, as detailed here by baseball digest.com, proposed other changes besides eliminating the 42 franchises:
- Realignments to Triple-A and Single-A circuits- to shorten travel and expenses.
- Updating the facilities standards, including clubhouses, weight rooms and support spaces- kitchens, lounges, etc.
- Player-Development arrangements for rookies to spend time at MLB camps and not in entry-level leagues (the Mid West League).
MLB also said it would raise the pay of the minor league players, a move that does not need to be negotiated by the MiLB or included in the new PBA.
Many law makers have expressed their concern over the move, including Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Here is copy of the letter Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds wrote to Manfred pointing out the economic importance of her state’s five MiLB teams:
The minor league organizations in Clinton, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines each have a positive impact not merely on the communities in which they are located, but in neighboring communities across our state and on the game of baseball itself. Iowa’s MiLB teams bring significant economic opportunity to their towns. They support surrounding local businesses and are a magnet for attracting people to their host communities. They each are also significant job creators. These teams typically sustain more than 200 jobs apiece each year, and that number excludes players, coaches, managers, trainers and all of the other positions under the purview of MLB.
Iowa’s Minor League Baseball teams also make significant charitable contributions to the communities they serve. They pay for free flu shots for local children, provide college scholarships to area families, and donate thousands of tickets and hundreds of thousands of dollars to non-profits and charitable causes in their regions. In small communities such as these, that kind of philanthropy simply cannot be replaced.
It is also important to note the millions of dollars of public and municipal investment that have gone into ensuring that Iowa’s Minor League ballparks are in compliance with MLB facilities standards. Cities across our state recognize the economic impact that minor league clubs represent and, as a result, have funded millions of dollars in ballpark improvements.
Additionally, our cities and towns are very proud of their teams and have demonstrated that pride by providing tax incentives, municipal bonds, debt forgiveness and reduced rent to make it possible for MiLB clubs to remain in their communities.
Dave Heller, owner of the Quad City River Bandits and the Lowell Spinners (featured in the Today Show segment), was interviewed by Harry Smith and talked about the importance of Minor League Baseball in America. You can see photos of the Quad City River Bandits and Modern Woodmen Park in the video.