When life gets back to normal there will still be major league-affiliated baseball being played in Beloit, according to prospective Beloit Snappers owner Quint Studer.
The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has not shaken the Studer’s confidence in Beloit amid speculation that the Snappers could be part of the Minor League Baseball teams cut through negotiations of a Professional Baseball Agreement with Major League Baseball.
The PBA agreement between both leagues is set to expire Sept. 30 and it guides all policies between MLB and MiLB, including player pay for minor leaguers.
In November 2019, a list of potential teams to be cut from the minor leagues leaked. On April 21, when PBA negotiations resumed, it was reported that both leagues were prepared to reduce the total number of MLB-affiliated teams from 160 to 120.
No agreement has yet been made regarding the PBA, and no final list of cut teams has been announced by either side.
In a statement issued April 21, MiLB called recent articles regarding team contraction “largely inaccurate.”
“There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues,” a league news release said.
Teams on the potential chopping block will be evaluated in part on location, stadium quality with an emphasis on player amenities and the quality of team ownership, as previously reported by Adams Publishing Group.
Last fall, Studer and the Snappers announced a $34 million downtown stadium project. Stadium construction was delayed from this month until late May or early June due to COVID-19, according to Riverbed Stadium Authority representative John Gackstatter.
Following baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego in December, Studer, along with Beloit businesswoman Diane Hendricks and Gackstatter met with MLB officials in New York to go over details of the downtown stadium proposal, Studer said.
“It was a very positive meeting about Beloit,” Studer said. “We wanted to make sure that when we are done, all the requirements are met.”
Hendricks has provided a majority of the private investment needed for the stadium project.
Studer stressed that he felt the Snappers are in a strong position to maintain an MLB affiliation going forward as aspects related to the team’s sale remains pending.
“We feel very secure about it in that regard,” Studer said. “This is all based on league approval, and I think we’ve been a good citizen of the league.”
The ownership transfer of the team to Studer is on hold until both leagues reach a PBA deal.
“We understand there’s still steps we have to go through with Minor League Baseball, and we have to be sensitive to that,” Studer said. “We respect that process and we are trying to hit every criteria needed going forward for Beloit. Having a signature project like this really sends a strong signal that Beloit is a city on the move in the right direction.”
The Snappers are a Class A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Studer said the A’s are “very supportive of Beloit.”
It’s unclear yet if baseball will be played in 2020, but stakeholders are moving forward.
“We feel really good about things,” Studer said. “We’re excited about the groundbreaking and we are excited about being in Beloit.”