Where will the construction money come from?
You read and hear so much about how Major League Baseball and its Commissioner Rob Manfred have garnered more interest in the game with rule changes designed to speed up the game. Sure there has been some criticism of Manfred about his attitude concerning Oakland and Alameda County elected officials and Oakland Athletics fans in the John Fisher attempt to move his Athletics Major League Baseball franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas. But most baseball reporters, who have a vested interest in seeing MLB succeed and get younger people to embrace the game, are ignoring a seedy side of the business. Holding minor league cities hostage in a quest to get new or renovated stadiums. MLB ditched 42 minor league franchises a couple of years ago and basically told some cities, you are lucky that you still have a team but you better get a new or renovated stadium up to our standards soon or we will find some other municipality to take that team away from you.
In Eugene, Oregon that situation is playing out. The Northwest League Class High A Eugene Emeralds 68-year baseball business is hanging on waiting for someone to come up with somewhere between $90 and $100 million to build a new ballpark in the city. In 2021, MLB came up with new guidelines for minor league teams for stadiums. Emeralds’ ownership went to the Lane County Commissioners to explain what it needed to do to satisfy MLB’s guidelines looking for money to cover the cost of a new stadium. So far, Emeralds ownership thinks it has about $57 million on hand from various sources for the project but that leaves a $43 million shortfall and time is ticking away with a 2025 deadline to get a new Eugene stadium deal done approaching.
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