CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Power officials remain hopeful that the organization will continue to be an affiliated part of Minor League Baseball, as the league’s Professional Baseball Agreement with Major League Baseball expires on Wednesday.
Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) remain in negotiations on a restructuring of the minor league system that has long been reported to cut more than three dozen teams across the country from affiliated baseball.
David Kahn, the West Virginia Power Broadcast and Media Relations Manager told MetroNews there will be baseball in Charleston next summer and the organization wants it to be affiliated.
“There will be baseball at Appalachian Power Park next year. Period, end of statement,” he said.
“Will it be the Power? We certainly hope so with an affiliation in Minor League Baseball. That is our goal. That is what we are fighting for.”
Kahn said the organization has not heard anything in terms of its status in negotiations, as the Power had previously been on a Baseball America reported lists of cuts with MiLB going from 160 to 120 affiliated teams.
He said that the reports of what will happen are all over the place and anything could happen.
“I have heard one week, I have heard one month, I have heard the end of 2020. It’s all conjecture at this point,” Kahn said of when a new deal could be reached.
The Power had been affiliated with MLB’s Seattle Mariners in the Class A South Atlantic League since the beginning of the 2018 season. Kahn said teams are free to discuss affiliation changes with MLB teams now that the agreement is expired.
Kahn said the relationship with Seattle may very well continue in 2021.
“Now that doesn’t mean we are going to sever our ties with them, we could very easily be back with them next year. It just means that the current deal is expired,” Kahn said.
Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.), a co-chair of the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force was part of a released statement Wednesday on the agreement expiring saying, “As the co-chairs of the Congressional Save Minor League Baseball Task Force, we are disappointed that today marks the end of the current professional baseball agreement. We strongly support the preservation of minor league baseball in our respective communities and across the nation.
“By the start of the 2021 season, many of these clubs will have seen little or no revenue for at least 18 months. We urge the negotiating parties to come to an agreement, without delay, that is fair to the fans, players, and local communities alike. The future of professional, major league-affiliated baseball that is close-to-home and affordable hangs in the balance. Next year, we and the thousands of baseball fans we proudly represent look forward to hearing umpires shout ‘Play ball’ in ballparks across the United States.”
Lori Trahan (D-MA), Max Rose (D-NY), and Mike Simpson (R-ID) are also co-chairs.
Kahn said the Power will continue to work with state and local leaders in expressing a voice for the need of affiliated baseball in what he called the first agreement dispute between MiLB and MLB since 1991.
He said the organization has “1,001 plans” to put on baseball in Charleston next summer whether it is affiliated or not. On Tuesday, the Bluefield and Princeton baseball clubs of the Appalachian League announced a change from affiliated baseball to a wood-bat league associated with MLB.
The West Virginia Black Bears in Morgantown is also awaiting the decisions of MiLB and MLB.