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State Senator

Cathy Osten

Representing Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich & Sprague

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Sen. Osten, Reps. Riley and Ryan Urge MLB to Spare Norwich Baseball

NORWICH – Joining the growing chorus of elected officials who are demanding that Major League Baseball reconsider its decision to eliminate 42 of America’s 160 minor league baseball teams by 2021 – including the Connecticut Tigers of Norwich – the Democratic Norwich state legislative delegation of Senator Cathy Osten and Representatives Emmett Riley and Kevin Ryan said today the region should rally its tourism and business advocates to help keep minor league baseball in eastern Connecticut.

“At a minimum there should be a local consortium of minor league stadium towns who work with their local tourism districts, local chambers of commerce and maybe high school and college baseball teams to protect the base of this all-American sport,” Sen. Osten said. “In Connecticut we should be working with the Eastern Regional Tourism District, the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, ECSU and others because minor league baseball is not only about America’s pastime, it also about tourism. It’s about spending money in local restaurants, bars and shops. If minor league baseball leaves Norwich, businesses in the region will be hurt and we’re going to be left with a mausoleum of a 6,000-seat baseball stadium that’s not even 25 years old.”

“The Connecticut Tigers have been a longstanding presence that has enriched our region and state,” said Rep. Riley. “For the past 10 years, Tigers games have drawn people from across the region to share their love of baseball, and they’ve helped support the local economy. So I look forward to working toward some compromise to continue the growth of minor league baseball in Connecticut.”

“While there may be significant feedback that some stadiums don’t possess adequate training facilities, medical facilities, locker rooms, or playing fields, that’s not the case with the Connecticut Tigers and Dodd Stadium,” Rep. Ryan said. “Great efforts have been made to satisfy the requirements of the clubs and the players. This is a professional facility, and the team and its continuance should be ensured.”

Last month, news reports detailed the MLB plan to eliminate 25% of the nation’s minor league baseball teams, mostly from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn (where the Connecticut Tigers play), Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer. The MLB plan is coupled with demands to upgrade certain minor league stadiums, change the date of the baseball draft, and limit the number of players in the Triple-A and Double-A leagues. Sen. Osten said the MLB’s financial exploitation of low-cost, local, fun family baseball outings across America is unnecessary.

“Major League Baseball made $10 billion in 2018, twice what they made just 10 years ago. The MLB isn’t hurting for cash,” Sen. Osten said. “Now the MLB wants to cut minor league players who are making $7,000 a season? Close the doors on the thousands of fans who pay $12 for the best seat in the house at Dodd Stadium? Their proposal is short-sighted and nonsensical, whether it’s the Connecticut Tigers or the Lowell Spinners of the West Virginia Black Bears. Major League Baseball has got to be made to see the folly of this proposal.”

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