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Major League Baseball Restructure Of Minor Leagues Could Strike Out Norwich's Connecticut Tigers

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Jeffrey Hynds
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The city of Norwich has had minor league baseball for 24 years, but that may change after the 2020 season.

The city of Norwich may soon be without a minor league baseball team.

The New York Times has put out a so-called “hit list” of 42 American teams that could lose major league affiliation, and the Norwich-based Connecticut Tigers are on it.

Major League Baseball may cut ties with the teams after the 2020 season as part of an effort to restructure the minor leagues and improve conditions for players.

A minor league baseball official confirmed to Connecticut Public Radio that the Tigers are being considered in the restructure. But he also said it’s still too early to determine who’s in and who’s out, as negotiations are ongoing.

“Minor League Baseball and our negotiating team look forward to working toward a resolution and agreement that will keep affiliated baseball in as many of the 160 markets as we possibly can,” said Jeff Lantz, Minor League Baseball’s senior director of communications.

The Connecticut Tigers declined to comment.

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said the potential severing of ties clashes with an agreement he recently made to keep the Detroit Tigers affiliate in the city for 10 years. He said MLB signed off on the deal.

“We view this as a power grab,” Nystrom said. “It’s taking privately owned property and devaluing it to zero. They’re looking at destroying 25% of their market base -- it makes no sense.”

The loss of affiliation has serious consequences for local baseball markets. Four years after the Colorado Rockies affiliate left New Britain, the team brought in to replace the Rock Cats recently announced that it will no longer play pro ball -- leaving New Britain without it for the first time in 37 years.

Norwich has had minor league baseball since 1995.

“I was talking with the vice president of the Tigers affiliate this afternoon: They want to stay,” Nystrom said. “They’re a wonderful partner in our community.”

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