Lawmakers form "Save Minor League Baseball" task force

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WASHINGTON (KCRG) - Four members of the United States Congress, two Democrats and two Republicans, announced the formation on Wednesday of a task force to advocate against a proposal to reduce the number of Minor League Baseball teams.

A pitch is thrown during a game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids (KCRG File)

Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA, Max Rose (D-NY, David McKinley (R-WV, and Mike Simpson (R-ID) said that their new group, called the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force, will monitor the ongoing negotiations between Major League Baseball and the minor league system. They, and other interested congressional members, will develop legislation to achieve their goal of preventing the full scale of the proposed league contraction, if necessary.

MLB had proposed the elimination of 42 minor league teams during negotiations between the two leagues on a new contract. That would include three teams in Iowa, including the Burlington Bees, the Clinton LumberKings, and the Quad Cities River Bandits, according to reporting from the New York Times.

"Baseball is America’s pastime, and minor league teams have a major impact on small communities across our country,” McKinley said, in a statement. “While we understand the MLB has concerns: the idea that doing away with 42 teams is the only solution is not reasonable. We look forward to working with MiLB and MLB to find a compromise that will preserve affiliated baseball in these cities."

While the team is not on the list of clubs to be eliminated under the proposal, representatives from the Cedar Rapids Kernels praised the efforts of the task force, saying that minor league teams are important economic drivers for the cities where they are located.

“With this proposal, MLB is willing to break the hearts of dozens of communities across the country,” Scott Wilson, Kernels general manager, said. “We are going to resist this plan and are gratified that so many in Congress are willing to join with us.”