NEW YORK (AP) – The minor leagues of baseball have canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the outbreak of coronavirus, and the head of their governing body has said that more than half of the 160 teams were at risk of failing without the help of the government, or injections of private capital.
The national Association of professional leagues of baseball, the governing body of minor league, founded in September, 1901, was the long-awaited announcement. The miners had never missed a season.
“We are a company of fans in the stands. We do not have revenues from national television, ” said the president of the national Association, Pat O’conner, at a press conference digital. “There was a conversation at a given time: well, can we play without fans? And this was one of the conversations as short as six months. It just does not make any sense. ”
O’conner has been estimated that 85 to 90% of the revenues were related to the money for the tickets, concessions, parking and advertising at the stadium. The miners have attracted $ 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, an average of 4 044 fans per game.
The teams of the MLB are planning a regular season to 60 games and most of their income will come from the money released.
“I had a conversation with the commissioner, and we have not been able to find a path that allowed us to play games,” said O’conner. “This was not a decision acrimonious on our part. “
O’conner stated that many minor league teams had received money through the federal law on the flexibility of the program of protection of pay cheques.
“It was a band-aid on an industry bleeding “, he said. “Many of our clubs have experienced one, two, or even three rounds of leave. In our office here, we had different levels of reductions in salary between senior management and staff, and we also leave some people and we are on the point of participate in a second series of leave. “
It is hoped the passage of H. R. 7023, which would provide $ 1 billion of loans federal out of 15 years of the federal Reserve to companies that had a turnover of $ 35 million or less in 2019 and have contractual obligations to make lease payments, rent or bond for public sports facilities, museums and community theaters. ”
In addition, the agreement of professional baseball between the majors and minors expires on 30 September. MLB has proposed to reduce the minimum number of affiliates from 160 to 120.
“There is no doubt that the pandemic has made us a little lower on the economic plan,” said O’conner. “I don’t think that calling into question our determination. I don’t think it has affected our desire to stay together and make a good deal. “
There has been no substantive discussions since about six weeks.
“There are very many teams that are not liquids, not solvent, that are not able to proceed in normal circumstances, and these are anything but normal circumstances since the ABP and the uncertainty of the future for some of these clubs,” said O’conner. “I think, therefore, that the coronavirus has really reduced the ability of many clubs to succeed. And I think that we’re without a government intervention, without doing something to take partners to the equity, you could look at the half of the 160 that are going to have serious problems. ”
The MLB has already asked the clubs to keep a larger pool of 60 players, including 30 players can be active during the first two weeks of the season from the end of July.
Conner said that the financial impact of the pathogen could extend until 2023.
“As serious as the threat of major League baseball,” said O’conner, ” the threat of the coronavirus, it transcends any list that anyone wants to do regarding the possibility that teams may not be present in the future. “
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