NEW YORK (AP) – The small leagues in baseball canceled their season on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said that more than half of the 160 teams are at risk of failing without government support or private equity injections be.
The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body founded in September 1901, announced the long-awaited announcement. The minors had never missed a season.
“We are a fan-in-the-stand company. We have no national TV revenue, ”said Pat O’Conner, president of the National Association, during a digital press conference. “At one point there was a conversation: can we play without fans? And that was one of the shortest talks in the past six months. That does not make sense. “
O’Conner estimated that 85-90% of sales were related to ticket money, concessions, parking, and baseball advertising. The minors attracted 41.5 million fans for 176 teams in 15 leagues last year, an average of 4,044 fans per game.
MLB teams are planning a regular season with 60 games and most of their revenue will come from broadcasting money.
“I had a conversation with the Commissioner and we couldn’t find a way that would allow us to play games,” said O’Conner. “It wasn’t a bitter decision on our part.”
O’Conner said that many minor league teams received money from the federal law on the flexibility of the paycheck protection program.
“It was a patch for a bleeding industry,” he said. “Many of our clubs have had one, two, maybe three vacation rounds. In our office here, there were different cuts in wages between management and employees, and we also took leave of some individuals and are on the verge of a second vacation round. “
He hopes HR 7023 will be passed, This would provide companies with annual sales of $ 35 million or less, valued at $ 15 billion from the Federal Reserve, valued at $ 1 billion, and “contractual obligations for lease, rental, or bond payments for public sports facilities, museums and communities have theaters. “
In addition, the major and minor professional baseball agreement expires on September 30, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum number of affiliates from 160 to 120.
“There is no question that what the pandemic did has made us economically a little weaker,” said O’Conner. “I don’t think it has challenged our determination. I don’t think that affected our desire to stick together and do good business. “
There have been no substantive discussions for about six weeks.
“There are a lot of teams that are not fluid, insoluble, and unable to move forward under normal circumstances. These are anything but normal given the PBA and the uncertainty of the future for some of these ball clubs,” said O’Conner . “I think the corona virus has really affected many clubs’ ability to do it. And I think we’re looking at each other without the government intervening, without doing anything to gain equity partners. You may see half of the 160 who will have serious problems. “
MLB has already advised clubs to maintain expanded pools of 60 players, 30 of whom may be active in the first two weeks of the season from late July.
Conner said the pathogen’s financial impact could extend to 2023.
“As serious as the major league baseball threat was,” said O’Conner, “this corona virus threat goes beyond any list anyone would like to create regarding the possibility of teams being gone in the future. “
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