A petition is underway, along with a Mayor’s Taskforce, to garner support to save minor league baseball.
Baseball—fireworks, hot dogs, green grass, the roar of the crowd— is a pastime that many have enjoyed for decades and hope to enjoy for years to come. This is especially true in the Frederick community, home of the Frederick Keys, an Advanced-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, since 1989. Yet, in late 2019, Major League Baseball (MLB) made a surprising announcement that it may eliminate up to 42 of their minor league affiliates (MiLB) in 2021. The list of 42 teams included the Frederick Keys.
In response to the MLB’s announcement, more than 120 mayors from around the county have created and joined a task force to halt the plans to eliminate these teams. Mayor Michael O’Connor signed onto this task force in January 2020. This task force is working diligently to support the negotiations and conversations between MLB and MiLB. To enhance support of these efforts, the task force is now asking for community members to sign a petition, reiterating why Minor League Baseball is important to the fabric of communities.
In 2019, more than 270,000 patrons attended Frederick Keys home games at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. The Frederick Keys employs 25 full-time and 250 part-time staff. The Frederick Keys estimate that they have an annual economic impact is over $15M (which includes the direct, indirect, and induced spending of out-of-county attendees, home and visiting teams, facility and operational spending, and other non-baseball stadium events). In addition, the Keys are a committed community partner and received the 2019 Carolina League Matt Minker Community Service Award in recognition of their extensive community engagement efforts.
“The Frederick Keys provide so much to our community - family-friendly entertainment, jobs, a fun, affordable outing, and a true commitment to the organizations and people of Frederick. It would be tragic to lose this team, and that is why I joined the task force. If you have ever enjoyed a night at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium, I ask that you sign the petition in support of Minor League Baseball,” shared Mayor Michael O’Connor.
MiLB connects many to communities and neighbors. Four out of five Americans live in a city with at least one minor league team, according to a 2018 ESPN poll conducted on behalf of Minor League Baseball. Last year, a total of 41,504,077 fans passed through MiLB clubs’ gates in 2019, marking the 15th consecutive season that clubs have drawn more than 40 million fans to its ballparks to see baseball’s future stars and experience affordable family-friendly entertainment.
In addition to the Mayor’s Task Force public petition, other opportunities to support the Frederick Keys and Minor League Baseball will be announced as the 2020 season nears.