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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Minor League Baseball Is in Crisis

While MLB has yet to announce whether minor league games will be played this year, the specter of a canceled season looms large within front offices across the country. Season tickets were sold in the offseason, as were sponsorships, and those companies’ names now dot walls in empty ballparks and are stamped on boxed-up bobbleheads.

“All the deposits have come in, and we’ve spent them,” says one owner, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the situation facing minor league teams. He adds that he worries about a Great Depression–like rush among sponsors if the season is canceled. The local auto dealer that paid for a promotional night that never happened, for instance, may well want its cash returned. “They might need that money back to get them through,” the owner said. “Imagine if every sponsor wants that money. We’re facing an economic crisis.”

Even the best circumstance—keeping the money now and rolling over season-ticket purchases and sponsorships to next year—means teams could be operating with steep losses beyond just this season. “After [the pandemic] passes, that’s still not the end,” says another owner. “We’re going to see bankruptcies, team closures. Some owners will be forced to sell, to just give up. That absolutely will happen, and sooner, rather than later.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 19, 2020 at 01:16 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minors

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: May 20, 2020 at 09:23 AM (#5952225)
And just as MLB was going to gut the minors anyway! Ain't life grand...?
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 20, 2020 at 10:06 AM (#5952239)
I'd be curious to see how the revenue structure between minor-league and major-league teams differs.

FWIW, here are the attendance figures for all minor-league teams in 2019. Not a lot of surprises, but I'll say: some of the teams at the bottom of the list are stunningly bad. The Dunedin Blue Jays of the FSL averaged...203 fans a game in 2019.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 20, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5952245)
Dunedin was playing in a temporary facility, I assume without many fan amenities at all, while a new stadium was being built for 2020.

Second on that list was the Florida Fire Frogs, who are an absolute mess.
   4. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 20, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5952262)
Why they thought it would be a good idea for an FSL team to rebrand from "Brevard County Manatees" to "Florida Fire Frogs" is an absolute mystery. Calling yourself "Florida" in a league where every team is in Florida. Makes them sound like one of those traveling teams with no home games.

And why are two teams in West Virginia called "West Virginia"? Show some civic pride. One of them is in Charleston and one is in Morgantown. Morgantown Black Bears. The other one can still be "West Virginia Power" but ONLY because it's the state capital.

Here in Maryland Frederick was #1 in attendance in their league and Hagerstown a few miles away was last. Frederick was still on the chopping block for some reason. Frederick would probably fit right in in the Atlantic League, but I don't know about Hagerstown. Hagerstown is to Frederick as York is to Lancaster, so maybe they'd fit in too.
   5. catomi01 Posted: May 20, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5952268)
Years ago I interviewed for a job with one of them (honestly can't remember if it was Frederick or Hagerstown, though I think Hagerstown.) I had already been in the industry for a few years, and had interviewed with a few other teams, so I was ready for the low salary, long hours etc. I wasn't ready for just how low, low could be though. The salary, for a full-time position (I think in operations) was $300 a month. This was less than 20 years ago.

I did randomly find a fantastic, NY style pizza place on the way back from the interview to Gettysburg though, so the trip wasn't completely wasted.
   6. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 21, 2020 at 12:33 AM (#5952556)
Why they thought it would be a good idea for an FSL team to rebrand from "Brevard County Manatees" to "Florida Fire Frogs" is an absolute mystery.

Not to mention that alliteration is such a trite lazy way to name a team. They deserve whatever terrible fate they get.
   7. flournoy Posted: May 21, 2020 at 02:34 AM (#5952560)
Why they thought it would be a good idea for an FSL team to rebrand from "Brevard County Manatees" to "Florida Fire Frogs" is an absolute mystery.


An obvious factor is that they are no longer in Brevard County. They relocated to Kissimmee (Osceola County) when they switched affiliation to the Braves, and they were going to play at the Braves' spring training home in North Port (Sarasota County) this year. So they actually are kind of like one of those "travelling teams."
   8. Rally Posted: May 21, 2020 at 08:15 AM (#5952577)
And why are two teams in West Virginia called "West Virginia"? Show some civic pride. One of them is in Charleston and one is in Morgantown. Morgantown Black Bears. The other one can still be "West Virginia Power" but ONLY because it's the state capital.


I'm a bit surprised Morgantown has a team. It's a college town and not that full during the summers. There is a small town right nearby called Star City. Since my simulation team has been the Miami Stars since the 80s, I made Star City my AA franchise when I was in school there. Fictional teams don't have to worry too much about attendance.
   9. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: May 21, 2020 at 12:31 PM (#5952640)
I'm a bit surprised Morgantown has a team. It's a college town and not that full during the summers.

AFAICT the quality of the facility is pretty important to the major league front offices, although I am not exactly sure what that means. The fact that WVU's D1 program plays on the same field suggests the park is well maintained. It looks like a few other college programs share fields with NYP teams, Penn State being the most obvious. Presumably the medical facilities in Morgantown are better than your typical medium sized town, as well.
   10. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 21, 2020 at 12:51 PM (#5952648)
The Morg's population is 30,000, with a fair number of academics; from this site's demographics, they like baseball. It's also got summer-school students and is the only game in town.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 21, 2020 at 05:39 PM (#5952772)
It's also worth noting that Morgantown is a Pirates affiliate (as is the other WV team, too). Morgantown is one of the only decently large satellite markets in the Pirates' territory, and having an affiliate there functions as indirect marketing for any fans who might also be inclined to buy Pirates merch or make the drive to PNC Park a few times a year.

Plus, that close geographical proximity of affiliates makes it easier for the team to transfer players between levels when needed.
   12. never forget: the pee tape is 57i66135 Posted: May 21, 2020 at 06:15 PM (#5952785)
doesn't morgantown also have the highest concentration of millionaires in america?
   13. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 21, 2020 at 06:27 PM (#5952786)
doesn't morgantown also have the highest concentration of millionaires in america?

selling to the high3est density of oxy addicts?
   14. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 21, 2020 at 10:31 PM (#5952814)
Morgantown is one of the only decently large satellite markets in the Pirates' territory, and having an affiliate there functions as indirect marketing for any fans who might also be inclined to buy Pirates merch or make the drive to PNC Park a few times a year.

Nicer place to visit than Altoona or other satellite markets (Steubenville? Johnstown?), too.
   15. Rally Posted: May 22, 2020 at 01:08 PM (#5952938)
doesn't morgantown also have the highest concentration of millionaires in america?


If so it has changed quite a bit in the last 25-30 years. Not saying there weren't millionaires then, but if so I wasn't aware of many. Maybe Jeff Hostetler, Super Bowl winning QB, who I think lived there at least part time. I finished my MBA in 1994, and some people in my class were actually happy to have jobs lined up after graduation that barely paid $20,000.

There was a very high concentration of drinking establishments.

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