GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – You know it is baseball season when you smell fresh cut grass, salted peanuts and of course the beautiful cracking sound of the bat hitting a home run, but these experiences could come to an end for Minor League Baseball teams as they’re in danger of being dropped by Major League Baseball.
Of the 42 minor league baseball teams, five are right here in the Tri-Cities.
The initial proposal of the restructuring plan states MLB teams supply the minor leagues with players, coaches and equipment spending nearly $500 million annually but only $18 million are receiving back.
“Baseball is important. For one, it’s part of our fabric,” Greeneville City Administrator Todd Smith said.
Smith said if the MLB eliminates the Greeneville Reds, the impact would be harsh for the town.
“It’s a tourism draw. It’s a local draw for our residents that live in Greeneville,” Smith said.
The Greeneville Reds create a large economic impact for the town.
“When the baseball league is here, there’s obviously a lot of meals that are purchased. The community goes way above and beyond, in terms of hosting baseball players and going out in supporting baseball players, other than just attending the baseball games,” Smith said.
He said MiLB teams also help the major league teams in marketing their brands.
Smith explained, “The fact that the Cincinnati Reds have an affiliate baseball team in Greeneville, that’s countless amounts of marketing dollars that they don’t have to spend of the fact that there’s a baseball team in Greeneville.”
“Greeneville has a phenomenal baseball facility. If you haven’t been into it, you also would have a major league park without the outfield seats. I mean, it’s a wonderful park. Johnson City has done a lot to theirs and certainly Elizabethton has upgraded their stadium,” U.S. Representative Phil Roe said. “It’s really frustrating to see this. Their attendance this year, I saw Johnson City at 80,000 people attended those games.”
“Cities that didn’t have a lot of resources have stepped up and invested big money in their minor league parks. And they really are very, very good now,” Rep. Roe said.
He said congress does not really have a say in this call.
Roe explained, “It’s a private company and we can only voice our displeasure and say, ‘Look, can you rethink this?'”
A meeting is set to take place in Dallas to discuss negotiations between the minor and major leagues.
The local teams in the Appalachian League are not the only MiLB teams in Tennessee facing possible elimination. Six of the 42 teams on the list are in the Volunteer State, including the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Jackson Generals.