CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — They are trying not to strike out at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston. When Major League Baseball announced this week it might close down 42 minor league teams, including those in Charleston, Bluefield, and Princeton, West Virginia, the phones started ringing on Capitol Hill. Congress, after all, controls Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, which essentially allows MLB to operate as a legal monopoly.
“These teams end up making money on all of this. I think at least, since we’ve helped build stadiums for them, and with them, they ought to stay in the communities where we’ve made commitments,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R-West Virginia).
“I think everyone is concerned about this. Nobody wants us to lose it. I said it’s the hub of what goes on in some of these smaller communities,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-West Virginia).
And it’s not just the ballparks. In Charleston, dozens of downtown bars and restaurants depend on the fans.
“It’s important. You know after every game we get a nice little rush. Before the games, we get people to come in. So, it’s a positive thing economically for many restaurants,” said Tracy Abdalla, General Manager at Adelphia Bar & Grille.
“We know the monumental financial impact that it brings to the city of Charleston,” said Mayor Amy Goodwin, City of Charleston.
So far, the minor league baseball team in Morgantown would be the only one to keep playing in West Virginia as of 2021, if the agreement with MLB is approved.
As of now, more than 100 members of Congress have signed a letter to Major League and Minor League Baseball, asking them not to shut down these 42 teams, including three in West Virginia.