TRI-CITIES (WJHL) – Minor league baseball teams are in danger of being dropped by the major leagues.
MLB has proposed cutting more than a quarter of its 160 affiliates, five in our region, citing concerns over the quality of facilities, travel and salaries for players.
Over the past year, the Elizabethton Twins have improved team facilities and fan experience.
“To lose the team would definitely be a big blow both economically and just as far as having one more thing people can go out and enjoy in the community,” said Luke Freeman with the Elizabethton Carter County Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber of Commerce leaders agree that losing the team could have negative impacts.
“The Elizabethton Twins are definitely a big asset to our community,” he said. “They bring in tourism from around the area, as well as just providing something for the people here in our community to do.”
The Elizabethton Twins is one of three Appalachian League teams owned by Boyd Sports. The others are the Johnson City Cardinals and the Greeneville Reds.
News Channel 11’s Blake Lipton spoke with Jeremy Boler, vice president of Boyd Sports, who said right now, it is business as usual for 2020, but with a few million dollars in renovations slated for each club it owns, the group is now waiting before spending any many.
“We have to trust the process that minor league baseball has put the right negotiating team together to negotiate on our behalf and in our best interest,” said Boler.
Boler said each team brings in more than six-figures of economic impact for each area. Should Major League Baseball agree to cut these teams, Boyd Sports is still unsure of how it would address the issue.
“At that point we really have to talk to the cities to see if there’s any other options out there, different types of baseball that’s not professional, not everybody might be open to that,” he said.
Boler said they would also consider moving some staff to the Tennessee Smokies.
In response to Major League Baseball stating concerns about facilities, player travel and health and wellness, Boler said right now, no standards are in place.
“We just need to know, what are these facility standards you are looking for and player travel, the Appalachian League, you can’t argue that,” he said. “Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, Greeneville all these rides are the max of 20-30 minutes.”
Boler believes talks between minor league and MLB could drag on for a few months.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed this on Wednesday saying the MLB “will remain flexible” in negotiating.
The current agreement ends Sept. 15, 2020.