2020 Minor League Baseball season cancelled
Minor League Baseball teams face uncertain future over in wake of COVID- 19 pandemic
[email protected] Sorry, fans of the Memphis Redbirds (or Arkansas Travelers, Chattanooga Lookouts, Durham Bulls or Macon Whoopee), Minor League Baseball will not have a season for the first time since 1901 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And there’s more than just this season at stake. With the costs of maintaining a minor league franchise and no money being made at the stadium, several teams might not be able to make it to 2021.
MiLB president Pat O’Conner told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that it would hard for the organization to predict what’s going to happen next because the future is so murky. Unlike the major leagues where teams are going to make money off lucrative TV deals, minor league teams largely depend on in-house ticket and concession sales to survive. According to Baseball America, O’Conner warned that about half or possibly more than half of minor league baseball teams could sell or fold completely.
“It’s north of half (of MiLB teams) who could either have to sell (or go insolvent without government or other help). This is the perfect storm. There are many teams that are not liquid, not solvent,” Conner said.
“I could see this (economic impact) lingering into 2022, 2023 easily. In some cases, possibly a little longer.”
Minor League Baseball was reportedly talking about contracting 42 teams in the winter before the pandemic swept the globe.
Adding the coronavirus on top of an already uncertain future, minor league baseball is in peril.
The cancellation leaves hundreds of young ballplayers without many options for 2020. Some prospects will make their way to independent teams or get extended playing time at their MLB team’s Spring Training facility.
The real problem right now is that Major League Baseball team owners have spent the past several weeks worrying about their own teams and season, trying to work out a deal with the contentious MLB Players Association, leaving little time to be concerned with largely independently- owned minor league clubs.
O’Conner added that the talks between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball about the expiring Professional Baseball Agreement are “at a standstill,” according to Baseball America.
Chris Phillips, the president of the Colorado Rockies’ affiliate Rocky Mountain Vibes, told the Denver Post that things don’t look good for most minor league teams.
“Teams across the country are going 18 months straight without a steady revenue stream,” Phillips said. “That’s brutal, and in addition to potential contraction you’re going to see a number of teams who wind up folding because they weren’t able to make it financially.”
Major League Baseball will be holding a truncated 60game season beginning later this month. Games will be played under strict COVID-19 guidelines in empty stadiums and under some modified rules including a Designated Hitter in all games, regardless of league (traditionally the National League does not use a DH), playing extra inning tie-breakers with a runner starting on second base, using an Injured List and a COVID19 List to place inelligible players, and other modifications aimed at player health and safety.
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