Harrisburg, PA (AP) — Pennsylvania’s governor wants Major League Baseball to rethink a restructuring plan that would affect three minor league teams in the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday wrote to baseball commissioner Robert Manfred to express concern about the impact on the Erie SeaWolves, the Williamsport Crosscutters and the State College Spikes.
The Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues expires after the 2020 season. The restructuring proposal would lead to 42 minor league teams being dropped from circuits.

Major league teams say they spend nearly $500 million annually in salary to support the minor leagues but get back only $18 million.

Wolf says the current proposal will put players and employees out of jobs and be economically harmful to host communities.

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Pennsylvania (press release from Governor Wolf’s office) – Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Robert Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem urging them to reconsider a proposal to cut ties with more than 40 Minor League teams throughout the nation.

“Pennsylvania is proud of our place in the history of our country and with baseball,” said Gov. Wolf. “Pennsylvania’s professional baseball affiliates help provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment and improve the quality of life in each of their communities. The MLB’s antitrust exemption and exclusive control of local professional baseball operations unfortunately could make this decision life-or-death for these community teams. The MLB needs to do the right thing and recognize the value of these community institutions that have been part of the league’s success. I am hopeful that any decisions made on this proposal will only be made after consulting with local representatives about the effects on the local economies.”

According to the proposal, three Pennsylvania teams would be impacted: Erie SeaWolves, State College Spikes, and the Williamsport Crosscutters.

The full letter is as follows:

Dear Commissioner Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Halem:

It has come to my attention that Major League Baseball is proposing to eliminate player development contracts for forty-two Minor League Baseball teams including three teams stationed in Pennsylvania cities. On behalf of all Pennsylvanians, I am writing to express my concern with this proposal.

Baseball is one of America’s favorite pastimes and Minor League Baseball teams have brought professional baseball and the joy of the game to many people across the country. The result of your proposal will be detrimental to not only players and employees of teams who will lose their jobs, but to the communities these teams call home. Minor League teams support local businesses and host various forms of charitable work for their communities. In Pennsylvania, cutting these teams will take opportunities away from families to experience an affordable, family-friendly professional baseball game within a local setting. Williamsport, State College, and Erie are each located several hours from a Major League stadium, so losing the local Minor League team would make attending baseball games difficult for families who live in these places. Children and young adults in these communities, including Williamsport, the home of the Little League World Series, would lose invaluable opportunities to watch and learn from talented Minor League players. If these teams are cut, it also creates another issue for local authorities in regard to possibly having an empty stadium to maintain. Minor League Baseball teams promote talent development, encourage fan loyalty, and most importantly, bring communities together.

Thank you for your time and please reconsider your proposal as the effect will be felt drastically by local communities who have supported these teams over the years.

Sincerely,

TOM WOLF
Governor

Read the full letter as a PDF or on Scribd.