WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is seeking to aid the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and other independently-owned Minor League Baseball teams impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a bill introduced this summer.
The Minor League Baseball Act (S.2233 and its identical house version, H.R. 4150), would emulate the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant program, which has provided grant funding for entertainment venues that were forced to close their doors during the pandemic.
While the Fisher Cats did receive $1.5 million from the State of New Hampshire’s Live Venue Relief Program and a restructuring of bond repayment obligations for its stadium from the City of Manchester , the lack of a season in 2020 was a difficult one for the team, which cannot rely on windfalls from television broadcast agreements, unlike Major League Baseball teams.
The pandemic saw 40 Minor League Baseball teams lose their affiliation with Major League Baseball, with many suspending operations.
The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Hassan, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and 33 co-sponsors in the House version, including Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), the congressman representing Manchester in Washington.
In its current form, the bill provides $550 million in federal relief for independent teams as well as Minor League Baseball teams that are locally owned, such as the Fisher Cats.
Teams would be able to receive grants for up to $10 million for payroll costs, regular business expenses and payments for independent contractors, with the opportunity for a second grant of 50 percent of the first if the club’s revenue does not recover to 2019 levels.
“Baseball is America’s pastime, and few sights signal recovery more than baseball stadiums filling up again as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hassan. “When families and friends come together to share in their love of baseball, small business owners also win—serving customers and stimulating the local economy. I’m glad to sign onto this bill that will help smaller baseball teams recover from a difficult revenue loss from a canceled season, and I am proud to cheer on the Fisher Cats and Red Sox!”
“We’re grateful for Senator Hassan’s leadership in helping introduce this bill to help support our Fisher Cats,” said Mike Ramshaw, Team President of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. “We’re more than a baseball team, we’re a part of the New Hampshire community. We’re so excited to be back on the field this year and showing up again for Granite State families. Relief like this will be sorely needed as we bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen for business.”