WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan group of 106 U.S. House members, including Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, urged Major League Baseball Tuesday to rethink a proposal to eliminate dozens of minor league teams, including three in Montana.
In a letter addressed to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the members of Congress called the plan "radical" and said it would do great harm to communities that lose teams.
“The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs. We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives,” they wrote.
The proposed plan first became public last month. In an effort to cut costs, Major League officials proposed cutting 42 teams from the minor league system, targeting mostly teams in lower-level, short-season leagues.
That would include the eight-team Pioneer League, where the Billings Mustangs, the Missoula Paddleheads and the Great Falls Voyagers play in Montana.
This proposal comes as the operating agreement between Major League Baseball and its minor league teams is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season. This would be the last season for teams on the chopping block if the plan is approved.
Read the full letter from members of Congress here.