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MiLB Relief Act still in committee

By MELINDA WILLIAMS
melinda@southwesttimes.com

Months after being introduced to the 117th Congress as a means to help Minor League Baseball (MiLB) farm teams financially recover from a COVID-cancelled 2020 season, two MiLB Relief Act bills are still sitting in committees.

Valeria Rivadeneira with the office of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said the bill Warner introduced in the Senate, “sits with the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which has not taken up the bill yet.”

A companion bill introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Calif.) is sitting in the Small Business Ways and Means Committee, awaiting consideration, according to the bill tracking website Congress.gov.

That means both bills remain in the same committees to which they were assigned upon introduction in June.

According to an overview of the House and Senate bills, which have more than 60 co-sponsors combined, the 2020 season had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic after the MiLB clubs had already fully invested in the season. As a result, the incurred “overhead in anticipation of a season and revenue that never materialized.”

Although Pulaski River Turtles are not part of MiLB now, the final season of MiLB’s Pulaski Yankees Appalachian League affiliation was cancelled, leaving the Calfee Park baseball program holding unsold Yankee merchandise and other unrecoverable expenses.

Language within the bills states the average MiLB club lost more then 90% of its revenue as a result of the lost season.

If approved by Congress, the River Turtles would be eligible to receive up to $15 million in grants. The money would come from $550 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Eligible clubs could initially receive grants of up to $10 million to cover allowable expenses, including payroll costs, regular business expenses such as rent and utilities, worker protection expenditures and payments to independent contractors. Recipients could later apply for a second grant of 50 percent of the value of the first grant if the club’s revenue doesn’t recover or significantly exceed 2019 revenue.

Small Business Administration (SBA) would be required to maintain “strict oversight” of the program by requiring documentation; review of how the funds are used, and auditing of grant funding.

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