CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg has joined with other mayors from around the country to form the Mayors’ Task Force to Save Minor League Baseball a spokesperson in his office confirmed to Live 5 News on Wednesday.
The task force is in response to a proposal from Major League Baseball late in 2019 that would restructure the minor league system and eliminate 42 of the current 160 teams from around the country.
The Task Force will be co-chaired by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. Chattanooga is one of the markets that is in danger of losing their franchise.
During a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, Berke said 25 mayors from around the country have joined the group. “This is not a decision that should be made without the mayors across America having their say,” Berke said.
Tecklenburg released a statement to Live 5 saying “As we Charlestonians have known for more than a century, the impact of Minor League Baseball extends well beyond economics and entertainment. Fittingly called ‘America’s pastime,’ the game of baseball is cherished in countless communities like ours all across the country, as a way for citizens and families of all ages and backgrounds to come together to share their love of the game and one another. To take away that opportunity would be to deprive those citizens of the chance to be a part of this timeless institution we all love.”
A spokesperson for Major League Baseball provided Live 5 News with a statement on the formation of the Mayors’ Task Force saying "Major League Baseball is proud to have a long-standing relationship with mayors around the country to promote youth sports and grow the game of baseball in communities across the United States. Negotiations with Minor League Baseball are at a very early stage and while no one can predict what the final agreement will look like at this point, MLB’s goals of improving working conditions for Minor League players and protecting baseball in South Carolina and local communities across the country remain unchanged. That’s why MLB has subsidized Minor League operations at a rate of hundreds of millions of dollars per year over the past decade.
It is not Major League Baseball’s goal to eliminate any club in these negotiations, and MLB currently has a plan for every club to continue operations with some level of support. Mayors who want to help improve playing conditions and player development can encourage Minor League Baseball to return to the negotiating table and commit to working in good faith toward a better, more modern working agreement for our two leagues."