NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– The Minor League Baseball team in Norwich is in what could be the fight of its life. There’s a threat Major League Baseball could take away affiliations with some teams across the country. Now Connecticut officials are taking the fight to a new level.
“A friend of mine and I watched the stadium being built back in 1994,” said Kathy Bryant, Lisbon.
Kathy Bryant is as loyal as fans get. Names and affiliations may have changed throughout the years…
“From Navigators to Defenders, then Connecticut Tigers, and now the Sea Unicorns,” said Bryant.
But the love of Minor League Baseball here in Norwich remains.
“I’ve been a season ticket holder for all this time,” said Bryant.
A public fight is playing out between Major League Baseball and its minor league affiliates across the country. After the 2020 season, reports suggest MLB could be looking to terminate its affiliation with certain teams including Norwich’s newly re-named Sea Unicorns.
The city has made a host of investments here at Dodd Stadium and officials say the affiliation with the Detroit Tigers is key, especially for kids.
“It’s much more than baseball. It’s access for families. The youth get to see people playing, they get to follow them,” said Peter Nystrom.
Senator Richard Blumenthal is the latest Connecticut official to join the fight. He’s proposing a bipartisan resolution in the United States Senate that would threaten the anti-trust exemption, which allows MLB to do business by unique rules.
“It’s a big business. When the exemption was granted, it was not so big a business,” said Blumenthal.
MLB denies the accuracy of reports that precisely 42 teams will be totally cut off. Negotiations with minor leagues are ongoing and MLB says this is an effort to increase compensation for all players.
In a statement, MLB said in part:
“MLB is confident that we can modernize our minor league system, improve working conditions for players and protect baseball in the communities where it is currently being played.”
The Sea Unicorns 2020 season starts June 21st and Bryant hopes it won’t be their last.
“It would hurt if they got rid of minor league baseball,” said Bryant.