The Kane County Cougars have sent an urgent plea asking fans to support for the recently introduced Minor League Baseball Relief Act.
In the Cougars’ On Deck e-newsletter, Vice President & General Manager Curtis Haug sent a written message on behalf of players, coaches and approximately 500 employees asking that fans contact local legislators to express support for Senate Bill 2233 and House Bill 4150.
“The Cougars lost 98% of our annual revenue in 2020,” Haug wrote. “As with other industries that rely on large gatherings, PPP loans simply haven’t been enough due to the length of our industry’s government-mandated closure, high revenue loss, and the costs associated with making Cougars baseball possible.”
Haug said financial hardships continue even though the Cougars have resumed play for the 2021 season and hope to continue in 2022.
“The Cougars are vital to our regional economy, with millions of dollars being spent annually on the payroll of our 500+ employees and local vendors,” Haug wrote. “I ask you to visit minorleaguebaseballrelief.com and fill out the form showing your support for the Cougars. Upon completion of the form, a letter will automatically be sent on your behalf to your local Congressional representative asking them to support this legislation.”
Overview of Minor League Baseball Relief Act
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 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 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.
SOURCE: Kane County Cougars “On Deck” newsletter, Minor League Baseball Relief website, press release from the office of Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA)