Help us save baseball in Norwich
By Mayor Peter Nystrom
One of the things I’ve always loved about baseball is its simplicity: ball or strike, fair or foul, safe or out. The rules of baseball have never changed and never will – which is part of the charm of a game that has entertained millions of us for such a long time.
But a recent baseball-related announcement in Norwich comes down to right and wrong – and clearly needs to be changed.
In a shocking decision in November, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it wants to eliminate more than 40 teams, including our own Norwich Sea Unicorns, the Single A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Under MLB’s plan, the minor league system would be decimated, the annual draft would be reduced from 40 to 20 rounds and our local team would become a low-level, independent league team that would rely on try-outs to fill their squad.
This short-sighted plan, which is being vigorously fought in small communities across the country, must be defeated.
Professional baseball has played an important role in our community for a generation. Dodd Stadium, built in 1994, is one of our best and well-used community resources, attracting more than 700,000 fans since just 2010. The stadium has also been the host for many other events, from high school and college baseball games, to charitable events and community activities.
Minor league baseball in Norwich is one of the most accessible, and well-loved activities in our region. A game at Dodd Stadium is a fun and affordable night for almost any family, and an opportunity to run into old friends or make new ones.
The taxpayers of Norwich have made considerable investments at Dodd Stadium, including a new backstop, HVAC system and upgraded lighting last year. The City signed a ten-year lease with the owners of the existing team last August – an agreement that was approved by both Major League and Minor League Baseball.
So what can we do? Call, email or write to Major League Baseball and let them know that you disagree with this decision. I applaud Congressman Joe Courtney for joining our fight along with more than 100 of his colleagues in opposing MLB’s plan to eliminate more than 40 minor league teams – including our own Norwich Sea Unicorns.
Minor league ballgames are a vital part of our community a and a more reasonable summer entertainment alternative than a long and expensive trip to Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. It is important that we all tell the Commissioner’s Office that minor league baseball must stay in Norwich.
Working together, our community can help turn this decision around.