U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson joined more than 100 of his colleagues Tuesday in urging Major League Baseball not to move forward with plans to cut ties with 42 minor league teams in the 2021 season.
Simpson’s eastern Idaho district includes the Idaho Falls Chukars, a Kansas City Royals affiliate and one of the teams on the list. A bipartisan group of 106 House members signed the letter to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. Its lead drafters were were Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., whose district includes the Lowell Spinners, and David McKinley R-W.V., who represent a state with two minor league teams that are at risk.
Tens of millions of fans go to minor league games every season, the letter says, the teams “are vital components of our communities because they provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment to members of our communities, support scores of allied businesses, employ thousands of individuals, donate millions of dollars in charitable funds, and connect our communities to Major League Baseball.” Some teams, they wrote, “operate at a loss but continue to persist due to strong fan support and club ownerships’ commitment to their communities and America’s Pastime.”
“The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs,” the letter says. “We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives.”
The proposal would eliminate MLB’s affiliation with the entire eight-team Pioneer League in which the Chukars play, as well as nine of the 10 teams in the Appalachian League and teams in several other leagues, cutting the number of minor league teams by a quarter overall and moving some other teams into different leagues. The New York Times reported the list of teams on the chopping block on Sunday.