DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) –  On June 25th members of Congress in the House and Senate introduced legislation to help keep minor league baseball across the country alive. U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui (D-Calif.-06) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.-01) introduced the Minor League Baseball Relief Act, legislation to provide emergency assistance to Minor League Baseball (MiLB) clubs who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would like to ask the Dayton community to take one minute to ask their Ohio representatives in Congress to support the Minor League Baseball Relief Act,” said Dragons president Robert Murphy. “All you have to do is visit and type in your name and address, and a letter will be sent to your Members of Congress asking them to co-sponsor this critical legislation.”

“Minor League Baseball brings communities together, providing affordable family entertainment and job opportunities across the nation. This legislation will allow minor league teams to return to normal operation and result in saving baseball in many communities. We all appreciate Senator Blackburn’s leadership in this important effort,” said Randy Boyd, owner of Boyd Sports.

“This bill will help keep Connecticut’s cherished minor league teams in the game,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The pandemic put America’s past time on the bench and deeply strained already cash-strapped minor league teams. Communities rely on minor league teams across the country for local jobs and small business vitality, and young baseball fans first discover their love of the game there. I’m proud to lead the effort to provide an assist to these beloved teams when they need us most.”

“In times both good and bad, our national pastime of baseball connects us to one another and to the nation we love. Yet, the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has put many of our local Minor League clubs in distress, necessitating targeted support to keep our favorite teams afloat,” said Representative Matsui.

“Minor League Baseball is a point of pride to hundreds of small cities and towns across the country,” said Representative McKinley. “Like many other small businesses in other industries, minor league clubs are struggling from the economic impact of the pandemic. Many of these teams are at risk of closing their doors if they do not have additional assistance to make it through this crisis. This bipartisan legislation will ensure Minor League Baseball as we know it can survive and keep America’s pastime alive.”

“For many working families, catching a weekend Minor League Baseball game at stadiums across the Commonwealth is an affordable and fun family outing,” said Senator Warner. “Baseball isn’t just America’s pastime; it also represents an economic lifeline for many communities. However, like many small businesses throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our Minor League Baseball teams in Virginia and across the country have struggled mightily to keep the lights on.  Since there was no Minor League Baseball season in 2020 due to the pandemic, many of these teams have sustained heavy financial losses that have not been substantially mitigated by existing small business economic relief programs. I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on this bill that would allow these local treasures access to economic relief.”

“Baseball is not only America’s favorite pastime, bringing friends and families together; it’s also a critical economic engine for the Commonwealth,” said Senator Kaine. “Teams in communities across Virginia support our local economy and create jobs. The pandemic has taken a toll on this beloved sport, and I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to help MiLB teams through this economic crisis.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 MiLB season for the first time in 120 years. However, because of the timing of the start of the season, MiLB clubs had fully invested in the 2020 season, employing staff, and incurring overhead in anticipation of a season and revenue that never materialized. The past year has left MiLB with catastrophic long-term losses that will devastate the small business teams and significantly harm the communities where they play and the restaurants, shops, and businesses that depend on them.

Unlike their counterparts in Major League Baseball and other major sports leagues, MiLB clubs cannot rely on TV ad revenues to supplement the loss of proceeds from ticket sales, concessions, and in-person advertising. Even with the return of fans this year, many clubs are facing immense financial hardship.

The Wright State University Applied Sciences Institute estimated that the Dragons have an annual impact of over $27M to the Miami Valley region.

The Dragons said the Minor League Baseball Relief Act would allow Minor League Baseball to access up to $550 million in emergency grants to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and made available through funding authorized under previous COVID-19 relief legislation that would otherwise be returned to the Treasury Department.

This funding would only be made available to Minor League Baseball if it was determined that there was no longer a need for its originally intended purposes, and it would otherwise go unused.

The bill would distribute grants up to $10 million for eligible clubs and provide an opportunity for a second grant at 50 percent of the first if a club’s revenue does not recover and significantly exceed its 2019 total.

The bill requires strict oversight from SBA through documentation, review of use, and an audit on grant funding, and applies to any minor league baseball team previously part of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues but not to any club that is owned by Major League Baseball.

The Dragons are scheduled to play 36 more home games at Day Air Ballpark during the 2021 regular season.  Game times are 7:05 p.m. for Tuesday through Saturday games and 2:05 p.m. on Sundays.  No Monday games are scheduled at this time. Gates open one hour prior to game time.