MLB’s actions may hold up stadium leases in the minor leagues.
The first local trouble spot in the Major League Baseball-Minor League Baseball acrimonious player development contract talks has materialized in Dutchess County, New York. Dutchess County officials and Hudson Valley Renegades ownership cannot go ahead with talks about a stadium lease extension because no one seems to know if the Hudson Valley franchise will be in business in 2021. Hudson Valley is a member of the New York-Penn League, a short season Class A entry league. Hudson Valley, which by all accounts is a model short season minor league franchise, could also be in a higher league in 2021. In December 2018, the Dutchess County Legislature approved $2.4 million in bond funding to upgrade Dutchess Stadium. The next step was for the Renegades ownership and the county to work on a getting long term agreement. But Minor League Baseball is in limbo and the talks between Dutchess County and the Renegades ownership have come to a halt. The two sides are waiting to see what happens between MLB and Minor League Baseball.
Major League Baseball owners want to get rid of 42 teams. Most of the franchises that would be cut would come from the short season Class A leagues. The dispute is about money and on a grand scale of the baseball industry’s finances, it doesn’t make much sense. It is estimated that Major League Baseball owners can collectively save about $20 million or $600,000 per team annually by eliminating the 42 minor league teams. The owners also want to have the players draft in August which would eliminate the need for short season leagues. MLB owners seemingly don’t care about alienating fans by eliminating a source of local entertainment but money talks. Meanwhile in Dutchess County, New York, local government and a local baseball team cannot negotiate a ballpark lease extension as the team is in limbo.
Editor’s Note: Hudson Valley’s owner Jeff Goldklang responded:
We have not halted long term discussions, and there will be a significant capital investment in the ballpark. We’ve merely agreed to table final appropriations until the PBA landscape becomes clearer over the next several months. For example, if we were to expand the clubhouse by 250 sq ft and the new PBA requires 255 sq ft… we’d create unnecessary hurdles. It’s simply long term planning 101. You have taken prudent financial considerations that every operator should be undertaking during any long term negotiation and spun it to appear as if both sides are panicking.
Also, you did say we might be going out of business, which has not been reported anywhere or been contemplated by MLB…. “….because no one seems to know if the Hudson Valley franchise will be in business in 2021”. We have enough of a fight on our hands with MLB. The facts are on our side. Having to put out fires created by false reporting makes it a bit more difficult.