State College Spikes look ahead to 2020 season as local congressmen pledge support

November 21, 2019
In The News

The State College Spikes face an uncertain future, but they will be “open for business” in 2020.

The Spikes are one of 42 teams that would lose their affiliation with a major league club under a plan to restructure the minor leagues after next season. 

The proposal drew attention from Congress this week, as more than 100 members of the House signed a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred voicing their “firm opposition” to the plan. Among those who signed on were Centre County’s two representatives, Glenn Thompson and Fred Keller.

Thompson, R-Howard Township, praised the Spikes for offering a family-friendly facility, benefiting the local economy and helping local charities. He has been in touch with Spikes management to offer his support for the team.

“We’re going to work together to make sure that MLB understands what restructuring the minor leagues would mean to our community,” Thompson said in a statement. “These efforts will also continue with my colleagues in Congress, to ensure MLB understands the potential impacts nationwide.”

Among the factors that were considered in deciding which teams would keep their affiliation was distance to their parent club and the condition of facilities, The New York Times reported. The Spikes are a Class A Short Season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“While MLB has stated publicly that among their main concerns are facility standards, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park has always been fully compliant with MLB’s standards,” the Spikes said in a statement Thursday. Negotiations between minor league baseball and MLB are in the early stages, but “we are compelled to reassure our fans and stakeholders that we are open for business for the 2020 season.”

MLB’s initial proposal, according to The Associated Press, would drop four Double-A teams: Binghamton, New York; Erie; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Jackson, Tennessee. The plan would cut 28 teams from four Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced leagues and would reduce the minimum guaranteed affiliation agreements from 160 to 120.

Keller’s district is home to the Spikes and the Williamsport Crosscutters. 

“These franchises have been great community partners, providing our region with affordable entertainment while contributing to our local economies,” Keller, R-Kreamer, said in a statement. “I’m committed to working with both Major League Baseball and the minor league teams toward a mutually beneficial agreement that ensures the continued viability of the teams.”

Along with the Spikes and Crosscutters, seven other New York-Penn League teams are targeted under MLB’s plan.