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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Minor League Parks, Stripped of America’s Pastime, Await New Fates

In December, Major League Baseball completed a long-anticipated overhaul of its farm system, stripping 40 municipalities of minor league affiliations. Those cities were left with finding other baseball options or exploring a long-term solution through redevelopment.  Stadium face-lifts are often expensive — around $5 million for large-scale renovations. Even demolition can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. City officials in Huntsville, Ala., for example, estimated that tearing down their ballpark would cost $800,000.  Most abandoned ballparks have temporarily joined summer leagues serving college prospects or independent leagues, said Kevin Reichard, the editor of Ballpark Digest, a website devoted to news about baseball stadiums…

Building such facilities does not come without risk. When Major League Baseball reshaped the minor leagues, teams became locked into affiliations for only 10 years, seemingly giving minor league teams that were left out a window to refurbish their stadiums in case an availability opened up a decade later. 
The 10-year deals could also give major league clubs leverage to demand more upgrades from current partners. Major League Baseball has already ordered the minor league team in Eugene, Ore., to build a new stadium or the franchise will be relocated by 2025.  Community leaders in Lancaster, Calif., which lost the Class A Lancaster Jethawks after 25 years, are less keen on jumping through such hoops.

NattyBoh Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:55 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, rob manfred's dumb ideas, stadium renovations, stadiums

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. DL from MN Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:47 PM (#6037488)
Are we going to see a shift to college baseball fandom as the minor leagues shrink and MLB emphasizes college draft picks more?
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:59 PM (#6037492)
I don't think college basketball or college football are popular because people are looking at draft prospects. So, no.
   3. BDC Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6037504)
I don't see this in TFA, but the baseball stadium in Grand Prarie, TX is supposedly going to be converted into a venue for professional cricket. Though they keep pushing the start date for that venture out and it may be one of those things that never happens.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:34 PM (#6037508)

Are we going to see a shift to college baseball fandom


That might be where I direct the attention I once gave to MLB, to indie leagues and colleges. Not because of draft prospects, but because I'm done with Rob Manfred's organization.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:39 PM (#6037510)
The 10-year deals could also give major league clubs leverage to demand more upgrades from current partners.

At this point, I was thinking, "'Could'? Lol." Then I read in the very next sentence:

Major League Baseball has already ordered the minor league team in Eugene, Ore., to build a new stadium or the franchise will be relocated by 2025.

MLB using the extortion power of their cartel to its full extent is about as sure of a bet as bets get.
   6. Brian C Posted: August 31, 2021 at 07:36 PM (#6037543)
I can't read TFA but I don't see what the 10-year deals have to do with anything. First, affiliate deals were only 2 years until this last reorg (I didn't even know they were 10 years now). Second, the lease between the MiLB franchise and the facility ought to work just like they always did - teams just up and moved constantly in the past, too.

I understand that there is no minor league baseball in Manhattan and therefore the NYTimes probably has no idea how it works, but extorting cities for new stadiums is exactly how it's always worked! Just realizing now, in 2021, that they "could" have leverage to make demands is real hiding under a rock type of stuff.
   7. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 31, 2021 at 07:41 PM (#6037544)
Are we going to see a shift to college baseball fandom as the minor leagues shrink and MLB emphasizes college draft picks more?

I've said this before, but college baseball will never be on the same level as college football or basketball (or even college hockey in the northern states) because its season is incompatible with the school year. (Also, baseball first gained its true popularity as a professional sport, while basketball and football were big-time collegiate sports for a half-century before pro leagues took hold.)

I'm done with (MLB)

You lie. (Nothing personal, it's just that everybody always lies when they say things like this...)
   8. Jose Canusee Posted: September 01, 2021 at 06:21 AM (#6037606)
Wasn't able to read TFA without signing up. Had been to Huntsville twice when it was an A's affiliate but with the nearby town of Madison getting a ballpark they wouldn't have kept a team there anyway. Got Eric Chavez and some other team members plus former MLB playing manager Jeffrey Leonard to sign the souvenir cap. Tejada was the top prospect on the team on one of my visits and I had asked an usher who was the best player he saw, Canseco, Tejada or someone else? "Walt Weiss" was the answer.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: September 01, 2021 at 07:50 AM (#6037614)
You lie. (Nothing personal, it's just that everybody always lies when they say things like this...)


As a spectator, nah. I watched a little of the 2020 World Series and that was the only MLB I watched last year. I haven't voluntarily watched a game, or even part of a game, at all this year, and I see no reason to think subsequent years will be any different. Over the past two decades, most of my baseball watching has always been non-MLB style (having a kid who played seriously from age 6 to age 18 meant that was where most of my attention was directed). If I were the nightly baseball watcher I was as a kid, then you'd probably be right. But for me, it's not a major lifestyle change.

I will still read about developments because I still like this place. But I'm not going to give it my eyeballs, either in person or on the teevee.

But I'm sure you know me better than me know me.

   10. SoSH U at work Posted: September 01, 2021 at 07:50 AM (#6037615)
Edit: Double.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 01, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6037623)
You lie. (Nothing personal, it's just that everybody always lies when they say things like this...)

I was thinking about this too, SoSH, since I've also sworn off MLB at just the time I'm entering its prime historical demographic. The most recent games I watched were the 2019 World Series and I always used to keep MLB Network on in the evenings, but it's been somewhere around 15-18 months since I last turned it on at all. I quit the one fantasy league I was in mostly with friends from high school because I don't want to follow the current game. And now that Big Gambling is calling the shots, I can't imagine going back unless MLB eventually gets another Commissioner Landis (to ban gambling, not minority races). I quit buying current baseball cards about 15 years ago (still actively involved in the hobby, just on the vintage side). I do still buy current card sets from Strat-O-Matic, but I don't think they use any MLB trademarks therefore no licensing. About 20 years ago, the cards had an MLBPA logo for a few years, but that too went away about 15 years ago. I guess the last thing I could do would be to cut the cable so the [redacted] at Bally's don't get their cut of my cable bill, but my eyes aren't in their viewership ratings.
   12. winnipegwhip Posted: September 01, 2021 at 02:34 PM (#6037711)
Dear Pat:

Who needs you. We have a potential market in an Asian country of over a billion people in which we hope to cater towards.

Sincerely

R. Manfred


Dear Pat:

I agree with many of your actions and have done similar things to which you have stated. When it comes to watching baseball now I put in a disc of an old game from my collection. (I spent the spring and summer rewatching the 1981 season.) I find those broadcasts more enjoyable to watch in reflection. I have APBA and Pursue the Pennant. I am finishing completion of the 1976 O Pee Chee and 1967 Topps sets.

Sincerely
W. Whip
   13. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 01, 2021 at 02:55 PM (#6037722)
since I've also sworn off MLB at just the time I'm entering its prime historical demographic.


You're 18-30?
   14. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 01, 2021 at 04:52 PM (#6037774)
I'm also in Pat's situation. It's on at the gym, but I keep forgetting to turn it on once I get home, even when grading.

I really don't like the MLBN crawl wit hall the odds, and I find the Gambling Help Line worthless. Every time I've called with questions, usually about whether to bet the over or the under on a game, they hang up on me.

College ball is fun, as were the low minors before so many of them turned into circuses.
   15. bads85 Posted: September 02, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6038019)
MLB using the extortion power of their cartel to its full extent is about as sure of a bet as bets get.


Their really isn't much of a choice with the Emeralds. Their seasons now overlap with University of Oregon, and they share the current stadium, which was mostly built with university money. The university wants them out. The old stadium burned which the Ems moved out of about ten years ago to the ground as a result of teenage arson.

All of the teams in the High A West have been told their their stadiums need improvements. One would think MLB would have thought of this before alignment, but perhaps they thought shaking down the Pacific Northwest was easier than shaking down the Cal League.
   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 02, 2021 at 07:30 PM (#6038044)
Speaking of minor league stadiums, the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded out the stadium of the Yankees Double A affiliate in New Jersey:
Overhead video shows TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater Township — home of the Yanks’ Double-A affiliate, the Somerset Patriots — completely flooded from the playing field into the adjacent parking lot.
Doesn't look like they can play there for the rest of the season. Perhaps Trenton or some other abandoned minor league facility will be available.
   17. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 02, 2021 at 08:07 PM (#6038046)
God's wrath for turning a perfectly good independent minor league team into an outpost of the evil empire.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: September 02, 2021 at 08:26 PM (#6038049)
yes, this is the first season for the Patriots shifting from the indy Atlantic League to being a part of that empire.

I spoke to the club owner in January; he of decades-long connections to the Yankees. two months later, he succumbed to cancer and now this happens.

it is eerie how often towns and streets with bodies of water - or, literally, the word water - in their names wind up getting flooded.

personally, I chalk it up to coincidence.
   19. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 03, 2021 at 10:08 AM (#6038094)
Overhead video shows TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater Township — home of the Yanks’ Double-A affiliate, the Somerset Patriots — completely flooded

When you wanna watch some baseball
When water's in your eyes
From that Ida, y'all
You take a drive
Down to Jersey (but)
The ballpark can't be found
There in ol' Bridgewater Township
TD Bank Ballpark
Down there in Bridgewater Township
It's been flooded out

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