Chattanooga Lookouts, Appalachian League baseball teams under threat in new MLB proposal

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A Washington Nationals player reaches for a ball during batting practice before Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) – Several East Tennessee minor league baseball teams could lose their big league affiliation or be eliminated altogether in a new proposal by Major League Baseball.

The agreement between MLB and the MiLB, the governing body of minor league baseball, is set to expire in 2020. Under a new proposal from MLB, 42 of 160 minor league teams could be eliminated or see significant changes, according to a report from the New York Times.

The proposal could see four rookie short-season leagues, including the Appalachian Baseball League, lose their Major League affiliation. The Bristol Pirates, Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals and Kingsport Mets all play in the ABL.

Bristol, Virginia Mayor Neal Osborne tweeted Monday after The New York Times published a list of 42 teams being considered that would have their affiliations with major league clubs severed.

According to the report, MLB aims to improve all minor league facilities and improve the well-being of minor league players through travel and living conditions.

The Chattanooga Lookouts have been playing baseball for over 130 years but could be eliminated in a new proposal to revamp minor league baseball.

“We think it’s bad for both major and minor league baseball to have baseball in fewer markets,” says Freier, “We think it’s bad for the communities that enjoy baseball that have invested in facilities like that. We think it’s bad for fans.”

Jason Freier, Chattanooga Lookouts Owner told WTVC

Freier attributed the Lookouts inclusion on the list of teams that could be eliminated to their aging facilities. The Lookouts have played at AT&T Field since 2000.

The Lookout’s 2020 season won’t be affected. Freier told WTVC that if agreed upon, a new stadium could be ready as soon as 2022.

Negotiators from MiLB and MLB will meet at the end of the month to continue discussions.

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